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Bentham, Byron, and GreeceConstitutionalism, Nationalism, and Early Liberal Political Thought$
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F. Rosen

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198200789

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198200789.001.0001

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Constitutional Theory II: The Mature Theory of the 1820s

Constitutional Theory II: The Mature Theory of the 1820s

(p.59) 4 Constitutional Theory II: The Mature Theory of the 1820s
Bentham, Byron, and Greece

F. Rosen

Oxford University Press

When Jeremy Bentham returned to constitutional theory in the early 1820s, he had already developed many of his characteristic ideas in earlier writings on parliamentary reform and public finance. The idea of the social contract had shifted the focus of attention from the problem of the merits of different constitutions to an account of the origins of civil society. This move placed the question of the forms of government in a subordinate position. Thomas Hobbes, after placing his emphasis on the formation of the Commonwealth, reduced the constitutions to three with the differences between them merely a difference of numbers. Montesquieu revived the importance of different constitutions, and, under his influence and especially that of William Blackstone and John Delolme, Bentham was stimulated to take up constitutional problems in the early Fragment. Bentham took the argument in a new direction by arguing that in effect monarchy was tyranny.

Keywords:   Jeremy Bentham, social contract, civil society, Thomas Hobbes, Montesquieu, constitutions, monarchy, tyranny

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