Elements of Criticism: In Two Volumes: v. 1-2 (Natural Law Paper)

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After all, I may be wrong. When asked asked if he was willing to die for his beliefs. The Times book of quotations , p. I believe in my outrage knowing people are living in boxes on the street.

I believe in honesty. I believe in a good time.

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Moore's law

I believe in good food. I believe in sex. No known source; also attributed to Susan Sarandon. I am neither as drunk as a Lord, nor as sober as a judge. I am more in the condition of a Lord Justice. Misattributed [ edit ] Better red than dead. Bertrand Russell , attributes this phrase to 'West German friends of peace' but adopted this slogan for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament he helped found [1] William Safire, Safire's Political Dictionary, p.

Attributed to Russell in M. Kumar Dictionary of Quotations , p. Somerset Maugham , A Writer's Notebook , entry for Sometimes misquoted as "If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.

An encyclopedia of philosophy articles written by professional philosophers.

Misattributed to Bertrand Russell due to an ambiguous entry in Laurence J. One of its practical consequences for a utilitarian such as Bentham is that, where choices present themselves between giving an additional increment to a rich man or to a poor man, more happiness will result from giving it to the poorer of the two. Also, the analysis underscores why money cannot be a direct measure of utility, since the utility represented by a particular sum of money will vary depending on the relative wealth of the person who receives it.

Moreover, it is evident that diminishing marginal utility is also a feature of the additional increments of pleasure a person may experience beyond a certain point; equal increments of pleasure will not necessarily add to the stockpile of happiness if a person has reached a saturation point. For Bentham, the unhappiness created by the loss of something will usually have a greater impact on a person than the happiness brought about by its gain to someone else —43, I, —7.

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Of course, if the loser is a wealthy person and the gainer a poor man, this will not hold. But in the normal run of things, this is why Bentham gave a higher priority to the protection of property by law and why he held that the alleviation of suffering demands more immediate attention than plans to produce wealth —54, III, , Raising public funds through taxation for vital services would be justified by the principle, as would emergency expropriation of property in times of war or famine, usually with compensation paid to the property owner.

For Bentham, the significance of this principle as a practical guide could hardly be overstated. He came to see that such a principle could justify inordinate sacrifices by a minority, however that minority might be composed, in the interest of enhancing the happiness of a majority. He considered this a false conclusion, but one that needed to be addressed. The less the numerical difference between the minority and majority, the more obvious the deficiency in aggregate happiness will be a, Logically, then, the closer we approximate the happiness of all the members of the community, the greater the aggregate of happiness.

NATURAL LAW

The universal interest relates to interests that are shared by everyone, and only when it is impossible for government to contrive policies to achieve this end is a distribution of happiness less than universal or less than equal justified b, However, the number of decisions made by governments that are genuinely of universal reach are relatively few and may be limited to national defence and the framework of individual rights securities. Beyond that, redistributive policies invariably involve unequal sacrifices and benefits.

This means that the legislator must employ a utilitarian calculation in which the pain experienced by the few is reduced to the minimum necessary to produce benefits for the many; only on this basis may pleasures be summed and pains subtracted in order to produce the rationale to justify the best policy. Related to this conception of the universal interest is the egalitarian commitment that in arriving at the appropriate law or policy the interests of each and all must count, and count equally , I, This does not mean that optimal utility is not the goal, but simply stresses that optimal utility will be more likely achieved where there is an approximate equality in the distribution of the basic requirements of happiness Postema Green forward, argue that calculations of total utility fail to respect the distinctiveness of persons and thereby place their interests at perpetual risk Rawls , 22—27; Nozick , 28—35; see the discussions in Ten , 13—37; Rosen , Chs.

If deterrence can be achieved by punishing an innocent bystander when the real culprit cannot be caught or brought to justice, then why should the bystander not be punished? Because public utility would be maximised by making an example of an innocent bystander just as much as by punishing the person who was actually guilty of the offence but who has not been apprehended, it seems the utilitarian ought to support the punishment. But this is not only intuitively wrong, it is also wrong because there is a real danger that violations of security would lead to other such violations, with no principled basis to cease inflicting them.

Basic securities must be afforded to each and every member of the community, and violations of these vital interests are not justified, whether they be perpetrated by other individuals or government, since they contravene the distributive elements of utilitarian theory. From early on in his utilitarian theorizing, Bentham understood that the achievement of utilitarian objectives in practice required the translation of the utility principle into elements amenable to implementation in ways that the philosophically abstract principle itself could not be.

Concrete manifestations of happiness, for example, could be found in personal security and reduced crime rates, enhanced health and declining death rates, broader opportunities for education, the reduction of diseases caused by sewage pollution, and so on. This deficiency did not, however, prevent him from developing the theoretical apparatus to direct the formulation of such laws.

This was more than the Humean observation that utility is embedded in customary rules that have evolved over time. Where the jurist detects deficiencies, new rules and precepts must be developed that demonstrably accord with the utility principle. The greatest happiness principle sets the over-arching objective and is the critical standard against which existing practices are to be judged.

As such, it stands ever ready to be summoned forth whenever new guidelines are needed, subordinate ends conflict, or existing laws require amendment, refinement, or further elaboration. However, in practice it is the secondary elements of the theory that do the work of producing beneficial outcomes. In this way, they give practical concreteness to the philosophically abstract end of the greatest happiness.

The subordinate ends of civil law are security, subsistence, abundance, and equality, in this order of priority. This is entirely consistent with the view that, properly understood, the utility principle entails a presumption in favour of an equal distribution, unless there is compelling empirical evidence that utility would not be served by such a policy. However, he refused to countenance the idea that policies to redistribute wealth at the cost of security would be beneficial either to social prosperity or individual wellbeing.


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Bentham believed that facilitating individuals in the pursuit of their interests in a free market is what government should do, because this is the proven best way to maximise the public good. Where laissez-faire does not produce the best result, however, the legislator must act in other direct and indirect ways to produce the optimal outcome. But radical schemes for property re-distribution are ruled out; the axiomatic requirement that each be treated equally, that the happiness of each be counted, justified policies to equalize the distribution of goods only where this could be achieved without disappointing legitimate expectations.

Just as the primary purpose of civil law is economic security and national prosperity, so it draws powerful support from the protection afforded persons, property and expectations by the threat of punishment —43, III, To this end, utilitarian penal law is framed in terms of the principal objective of deterrence, but it also embraces the secondary ends of disablement, moral reformation, and compensation see Crimmins b. The effectiveness of the theory in practice depends on two additional features: offences must be classified solely on the basis of the harm perpetrated, and there must be an appropriate proportion between crimes and punishments.

It is because of its failure to satisfy the first feature that Bentham rejected the prevailing criminalization of consensual sexual acts, and developed the first systematic defence of sexual liberty in the English language. In settling the required proportions of punishment, Bentham recognised he had burdened the legislator with a vastly complex task—the calculation of the correct quantity and type of pain needed to achieve the desired ends, in particular the objective of deterrence.

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Bentham first examined the utility of the death penalty in the s when he delineated the principles of penal law —43, I, —50; see also , Ch. In sum, it is a special application of his utilitarian theory of punishment. The framework of analysis is presented as an objective, neutral exercise, by which the benefits and costs of the death penalty in cases of murder are assessed in comparison with life imprisonment with hard labour. All things considered, Bentham believed the weight of the calculation worked against the death penalty on the grounds of deterrence, the fact that it is inequable in its application, falling mainly on the shoulders of the poor, and because it is a form of punishment that is irremissible in the face of judicial error.

By , however, he abandoned the exceptions and argued that no offence warranted capital punishment UC cvii. Subordinate ends are also evident in the design and management of the panopticon prison: security and economy are foremost, but tempered by humanity and accountability. This view of the panopticon has opened up some interesting lines of discourse on the encroaching methods of control and surveillance in contemporary liberal societies Brunon-Ernst The end of economy determined that the panopticon prison should be a private self-sustaining operation not requiring financial assistance from the public purse.

Security determined that the community be protected from convicted criminals, and severity in punishment was to serve the ends of deterrence and reformation. But security also required that the inmate be protected from cruel treatment, and humanity determined that prisoners should be deprived only of liberty not health or life. Prisoners were to be kept clean and their labour made productive and profitable, including the development of skills that might be useful to them when released. In support of these objectives, Bentham invoked several devices to effect transparency and accountability in prison government.

And, just as the panopticon was to be monitored by the publication of regular reports, so reports of government activity were required to keep the democratic polity informed and facilitate the accountability of public officials. When Bentham turned his thoughts to constitutional law in earnest in the s, partly inspired by constitution-making in parts of southern Europe, it was with the conviction that all states in which the institutions of representative democracy already existed or in which they could be introduced were fertile soil for the utilitarian pannomion.


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  • The administrative, electoral and legislative details of this project occupied much of the last decade of his life, with its core ideas discussed in the pages of a variety of works in addition to the Code , such as Securities Against Misrule , First Principles Preparatory to Constitutional Code , and Official Aptitude Maximized; Expense Minimized. The subsidiary principles of accountability, efficiency, and economy underpinned the institutional design and procedural operations elaborated in these writings. It is imperative, therefore, to devise mechanisms that will ensure that only by acting in the public interest could they promote their own interests.

    Given the extensive powers Bentham envisaged the thirteen ministries of the reformed government would possess—far more power in the areas of public health, education, and relief of the poor and indigent than existed at the time—further safeguards would be required. Intellectual and active aptitude were to be tested through an examination process, though this would come to naught if the appointed official did not possess the appropriate moral aptitude —43, IX, Other devices designed to ensure, encourage, and test the required aptitude of public officials include: 1 the precise definition of responsibilities attached to each office, against which the actions of officials could be judged by either a superordinate official or the public; 2 the principle of subordination, according to which every official was subordinate to another who could punish him for inefficiency in the performance of his tasks; 3 complete exposure to legal prosecution of all officials for wrong-doing; 4 the elimination of the practice of handing out unwarranted titles of honour to party supporters and other favourites; 5 complete publicity of government business and the elimination of secrecy; and 6 freedom of the press, speech and association see Rosen , Ch.

    In the first sense of the term it is seemingly impossible for there to be a law that deliberately functions contrary to the will of the legislature. However, Bentham also held that all political authority, no matter what form it takes, is necessarily limited by its capacity to compel obedience from the people. And in Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence he explained that this implies two volitions, both of which are necessary components of a complete theory of sovereignty: on the one hand, the enactments of a legislature and, on the other, the will of the people to obey those enactments.

    The POT would scrutinize the actions of elected representatives, public and judicial officials, prosecuting charges where they are found remiss in their responsibilities, censoring misrule and imposing penalties when applicable. In these terms, the POT would be the leading security against the misuse and abuse of power , Vital to the functioning of the POT is the dissemination of information.

    In the first instance this would require the establishment of a public archive of government actions and activities containing records of law, policy, legislative debate, and statistics, which the government would be constitutionally required to make available to the public by a freedom of information provision in the constitutional code to ensure transparency.

    Secondly, it would require an unshackled press to ensure widespread publicity and the freedom to criticize unimpeded by censorship or gagging orders.