Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice: Jeremy Bentham and the Civil Law

In this book Dr Kelly presents the first full-length exposition and sympathetic defence of Jeremy Bentham's unique utilitarian theory of justice. He rescues Bentham's reputation from crude nineteenth- and twentieth-century caricatures, and develops a sophisticated and subtle interpretation of Bentham's moral theory which places him at the heart of the British Liberal tradition. Drawing heavily on Bentham's unpublished civil and distributive law writings, classic and recent Bentham scholarship, and contemporary work in moral and political philosophy, Dr Kelly shows how Bentham developed a moderate welfare-state liberal theory of justice with egalitarian leanings, the aim of which was to secure the material and political conditions of each citizen's pursuit of his own conception of the good life in co-operation with others. This strikingly original interpretation makes a valuable contribution to the growing literature on Bentham's legal and political thought, and develops a utilitarian theory of justice which offers much to contemporary political philosophy.