Theorist of Publicity
Bentham was one of the first, and among the most thorough, theorists of publicity of the modern era. Publicity is a pervasive theme running through all of Bentham’s moral, political, and legal theory; it is foundational to his thought. Bentham constructed a systematic theory of public reason, integrating utility and law into a complex framework for public reasoning, with a detailed architecture of public space, and constructing a network of key institutions and incentives for public accountability and public deliberation. He designed these institutions to secure the transparency of every exercise of ruling power and to encourage, educate, and empower the public in their critical task of holding officials to their responsibilities under the law. This chapter brings together the most important occurrences of the idea of publicity, documenting Bentham’s reliance on it throughout his career and demonstrating its centrality to his moral, legal, and political thought.
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