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Utility and DemocracyThe Political Thought of Jeremy Bentham$
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Philip Schofield

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208563

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208563.001.0001

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The Emergence of Sinister Interest

The Emergence of Sinister Interest

(p.109) 5 The Emergence of Sinister Interest
Utility and Democracy

Philip Schofield (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

From 1790 Bentham devoted much of his time and energy to his panopticon prison scheme. When the scheme was effectively rejected by the British government in 1803, he turned his attention to the reform of judicial procedure and the law of evidence. By the summer of 1804 he had worked out in detail the way in which sinister interest operated in this context. A right and proper interest constituted a motive to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number, whereas a sinister interest constituted a motive to promote the happiness of a particular individual or group. A partnership had been established between judges and lawyers to make the law complex, and thereby extract as much money in the form of fees as possible from clients. By early 1809 Bentham had come to realize that it was not just the legal profession which was characterized by sinister interest, but the political establishment as well.

Keywords:   panopticon, judicial procedure, evidence, sinister interest, motivation, happiness, fees, legal profession

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