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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: 02 August 2021

Utility and Command

Utility and Command

Roots of Bentham’s Universal Jurisprudence

(p.176) 8 Utility and Command
Utility, Publicity, and Law

Gerald J. Postema

Oxford University Press

Bentham located the foundations of his universal jurisprudence in two overlapping traditions. From the Epicurean tradition, he took his motto: “Utility is the mother of justice and equity.” From Hobbes, and the long thetic tradition before him, Bentham took his model: laws “are not Philosophy as is the Common-Law, and other disputable arts, but are Commands or Prohibitions.” These notions influenced thinking about law since classical times and inspired Bentham’s thinking. However, early in his career, Bentham discovered that, for his purposes, the received command model could not capture key features of law. These serious defects called for the model to be refined rather than abandoned; nevertheless, his refinements dramatically transformed the model.

Keywords:   Aquinas, coercive sanctions, thetic tradition, complete law, constitutive law, logic of imperations, normativity, Pufendorf, Suarez, subordination, thetic conception of law, rational self-directed agents

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