CUWS - Classical Utilitarianism Web Site

Jeremy's Labyrinth: A Bentham Hypertext

These web pages were begun in honor of the 250th anniversary of the birth of the philosopher, legal theorist and reformer, and political radical Jeremy Bentham (born 15 February, 1748). We present here an hyper-text made up out of portions of Bentham's work, together with lectures, commentary, notes, essays, on Bentham. At present, what is here is the Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, The Rationale of Reward, The Rationale of Punishment, and other texts, and some lectures about Bentham---that are linked into the IPML---by Stephen Darwall.

The title of this section of the Classical Utilitarianism Web Site comes from this passage by Bentham in a manuscript in the University College, London, collection:

I saw crimes of the most pernicious nature passing unheeded by the law: acts of no importance put in point of punishment upon a level with the most baneful crimes: punishments inflicted without measure and without choice: satisfaction denied for the most crying injuries: the doors of justice barred against a great majority of the people by the pressure of wanton impositions and unnecessary expense: false conclusions ensured in questions of fact by hasty and inconsistent rules of evidence: the business of hours spun out into years: impunity extended to acknowledged guilt and compensation snatched out of the hands of injured innocence: the measure of decision in many cases unformed: in others locked up and made the object of a monopoly: the various rights and duties of the various classes of mankind jumbled together into one immense and unsorted heap: men ruined for not knowing what they are neither enabled nor permitted ever to learn: and the whole fabric of jurisprudence a labyrinth without a clew. These were some of the abominations which seemed to present themselves to my view.
[The above is quoted from Charles Everett's introduction to his edition of The Limits of Jurisprudence Defined (Columbia U. Press, New York, 1945), pages 3--4, a text which will appear soon on this site. I first encountered it, however, in Ross Harrison's book Bentham (Routledge & Keegan Paul, London, 1984), page 47. (Paul Lyon)]

The Texts

Commentaries, Essays, Lectures, and Notes

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Last modified: Wed Sep 24 18:12:54 CDT 2003