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Utility, Publicity, and LawEssays on Bentham's Moral and Legal Philosophy$
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Gerald J. Postema

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198793175

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198793175.001.0001

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Utilitarian International Order

Utilitarian International Order

Chapter:
(p.247) 11 Utilitarian International Order
Source:
Utility, Publicity, and Law
Author(s):

Gerald J. Postema

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198793175.003.0011

International politics was integral to Bentham’s comprehensive jurisprudential project. His perspective on international law was that of a legislator, an engineer of global order, not that of expositor or theorist of the existing law. He articulated a (quasi-) cosmopolitan principle for the governance of a state-pluralist global order: the ultimate aim of international law, he argued, is the greatest common and equal utility of all nations. This principle articulates a standard of equal, mutual benefit and builds in a proviso that permits derogation from arrangements or laws that work greatly to the disadvantage of any given nation. He envisioned the global order as a loose affiliation of equal sovereign states, each of which participates on an equal basis in a common congress accorded legislative authority through their participation and is subject to judgments of a common tribunal. Bentham’s ultimate solution to the problem of war was threefold: (i) the law was to be put on a clear, authoritative, and fully public basis in a carefully drafted and systematic code; (ii) all disputes arising in international relations were to be directed to this code and a common tribunal was empowered to resolve the disputes in an impartial way; (iii) judgments of the tribunal were to be enforced by the soft power of Public Opinion Tribunal consisting of both nations and individuals.

Keywords:   common tribunal, custom, effective benevolence, equality, global order, international law, state-pluralism, public opinion, solidarity, war

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