Imagining Interest

Utilitas 13 (03):289- (2001)
Bentham, a founder of political science based on the calculation of interest, has been misread as a crass materialist. I argue, instead, that Bentham's interest is a specific product of the imagination, and the pleasures and pains of which it is composed are also products of the imagination. On my reading, interests and imaginations are always governed and the role of Bentham's political science is to help govern them more effectively and efficiently. Political science is a mode of what he calls . Various interest-based modes of analysis have been attacked by constructivist critics, but I argue that the arch-theorist of interest himself relies on constructivist modes of analysis. What lessons can we learn from this? We should pay less attention to methodological and foundational conflicts, and pay more attention to the practices of government that social science may or may not indirectly legislate
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