Bentham and Benthamism in Politics and Ethics

Henry Sidgwick

in Essays on Ethics and Method

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250234
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598432 | DOI:

Series: British Moral Philosophers

 Bentham and Benthamism in Politics and Ethics

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While Sidgwick praises Leslie Stephen's critical account of 18th century English philosophy, he regrets the brevity of Stephen's treatment of Bentham and Benthamism. This essay is his effort to provide a more substantial account of Bentham's contribution. Sidgwick observes that Bentham's originality and importance lay, not so much in his adoption of utility as an end and as a standard of right action, but in his exclusion of any other standard. Sidgwick devotes much of the article to discussing both the principles that motivated Bentham and central aspects of Bentham's character such as his meticulousness and conscientiousness, and his temperance. Sidgwick then turns to Bentham's contribution to political theory, discussing his opposition to natural rights and his views on constitutional construction.

Keywords: 18th century philosophy; Bentham; Benthamism; character; constitutional construction; Leslie Stephen; natural rights; political theory; Sidgwick; utility

Chapter.  12889 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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