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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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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

Chapter:
(p.267) 12 The Soul of Justice
Source:
Utility, Publicity, and Law
Author(s):

Gerald J. Postema

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198793175.003.0012

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

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