Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Utility, Publicity, and LawEssays on Bentham's Moral and Legal Philosophy$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 July 2021

The Soul of Justice

The Soul of Justice

Bentham on Publicity, Law, and the Rule of Law

(p.267) 12 The Soul of Justice
Utility, Publicity, and Law

Gerald J. Postema

Oxford University Press

Law has the task of securing us against the abuse of power, but it also creates new opportunities and resources for such abuse. The only effective solution to this problem, according to Bentham, lay in publicity, the most robust and comprehensive system of public oversight of public power in all its forms. Security against misrule was his mantra and his singular aim; publicity was his most powerful tool. Law’s ruling, Bentham argued, ultimately depends upon the spirit, intelligence, vigilance, intrepidity, energy, and perseverance of the public. Public opinion can work its constraining magic only if at every point the exercise of governmental power is public. In his extended discussion of securities against misrule, we have a sustained, articulated exploration of the necessary infrastructure of the rule of law. Bentham analyzed the background conditions and engineered the supporting institutions needed for a comprehensive and effective architecture of accountability. He enlisted every kind of device and facility he could imagine for this purpose. Laws requiring all kinds of openness and disclosure of governmental actions were among these devices, but he also thought about the physical and social structures of public spaces. He was an engineer and architect of publicity.

Keywords:   accountability, moral aptitude, publicity, Public Opinion Tribunal, quasi-jury, reason giving, responsibility, securities against misrule, self-esteem, separation of powers

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .