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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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Theory and Practice I: Bentham and the Greek Constitution of 1822

Theory and Practice I: Bentham and the Greek Constitution of 1822

(p.77) 5 Theory and Practice I: Bentham and the Greek Constitution of 1822
Bentham, Byron, and Greece

F. Rosen

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers three major themes of the ‘Observations’: Jeremy Bentham's thesis that the acceptance of popular sovereignty should lead to a transformation of the theory and practice of constitutional government; his use of the greatest happiness principle to resolve problems arising from the exclusion of the Turkish community from citizenship; and his novel and important contribution to constitutional theory in the doctrine of ‘latent negatives’. The chapter also explores the relationship between the ‘Observations’ and Bentham's better-known work on constitutional government, the Constitutional Code. Finally, it discusses the allegation that the constitution of Epidaurus was a mere ‘façade’ created by Greece to impress Europeans as to the capacity of the Greeks to operate a Western, centralised government. This allegation raises not only the question of the point of Bentham's commentary but also the general issue of the relationship of constitutional theory to practice.

Keywords:   Jeremy Bentham, popular sovereignty, greatest happiness, constitutional theory, latent negatives, Epidaurus, Greece, constitutional government, citizenship, constitution

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