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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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Bentham’s Equality-Sensitive Theory of Value

Bentham’s Equality-Sensitive Theory of Value

(p.94) 5 Bentham’s Equality-Sensitive Theory of Value
Utility, Publicity, and Law

Gerald J. Postema

Oxford University Press

Equality lies at the heart of Bentham’s theory of value, and hence at the core of his utilitarian moral and political theory.The thesis of this chapter is that a proper understanding of the foundational role of equality in Bentham’s moral and political theory will give us further insight into his distinctive theory of value. Equality was not merely an ad hoc addition to his principle of utility, undermining the coherence of the entire theory, as critics have charged. Rather, Bentham thought of equality as involved in the very meaning of the principle, as Mill put it. This equality-sensitive principle of utility draws on a person-regarding conception of value that recognizes the equal claim that each person’s well-being has on our moral attention. This conception of value that contrasts sharply with the one standardly attributed to classical utilitarians.

Keywords:   each to count for one, equal consideration, equality, expectations, extent, greatest happiness principle, discrimination, Abstract Happiness, theory of value, Individual Happiness

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