Most recent discussions of John Stuart Mill’s System of Logic (1843) neglect the fifth book concerned with logical fallacies. Mill not only follows the revival of interest in the traditional Aristotelian doctrine of fallacies in Richard Whately and Augustus De Morgan, but he also develops new categories and an original analysis which enhance the study of fallacies within the context of what he calls ‘the philosophy of error’. After an exploration of this approach, the essay relates the philosophy of error (...) to the discussion of truth and error in chapter two of On Liberty (1859) concerned with freedom of thought and discussion. Drawing on Socratic and Baconian perspectives, Mill defends both the traditional study of logic against Jevons, Boole, De Morgan, and others, as well as the study of fallacies as the key to maintaining truth and its dissemination in numerous fields, such as science, morality, politics, and religion. In Mill’s view the study of fallacies also liberates ordinary people to explore the truth and falsity of ideas and, as such, to participate in society and politics and develop themselves as progressive beings. (shrink)
This book presents a new interpretation of the principle of utility in moral and political theory based on the writings of the classical utilitarians. The writings of Adam Smith, William Paley and Jeremy Bentham are also considered.
This essay considers the relationship between crime, punishment and individual liberty in three main thinkers of the Enlightenment: Montesquieu, Beccaria and Bentham. It examines the development of the idea of a proportion between crime and punishment and challenges the view that the eighteenth-century Enlightenment was engaged in the creation of a new form of oppression through a system of rational punishment which was intended to replace that of the medieval period.
This article considers Bentham's response to the criticism of utilitarianism that it allows for and may even require the sacrifice of some members of society in order to increase overall happiness. It begins with the contrast between the principle of utility and the contrasting principle of sympathy and antipathy to show that Bentham regarded the main achievement of his principle as overcoming the subjectivity he found in all other philosophical theories. This subjectivism, especially prevalent in theories of rights, might well (...) lead to the sacrifice of the individual. The principle of utility was presented as an theory that avoided the difficulties of other moral and political theories. The article also considers the importance of universally applicable ends, such as security and equality, as part of the principle of utility, and especially Bentham's view of maximizing pleasure as being a distributive rather than an aggregative idea. The article concludes by criticizing H. L. A. Hart's interpretation of the role of equality and rights in Bentham and John Stuart Mill, and argues that Mill's doctrine of moral rights builds on foundations originally established by Bentham, foundations which would preclude the sacrifice of individuals. (shrink)
This paper examines the commonplace assertion that utilitarianism allows for and even, at times, requires the punishment of the innocent. It traces the origins of this doctrine to the writings of the British Idealists and the subsequent development of what is called the post-utilitarian paradigm which posits various justifications for punishment such as retribution, deterrence and reform, finds all of them inadequate, and then, with the addition of other ideas, reconciles them. The idea of deterrence is falsely depicted as the (...) utilitarian contribution to the theory of punishment, while deterrence in fact is one of several elements in the utilitarian theory. The mistake comes from ignoring the pain-pleasure dimension of Benthamite utilitarianism and from regarding the principle of utility itself as the sole criterion of action in a fashion. (shrink)
Exploring the connection between Bentham and Byron forged by the Greek struggle for independence, this book focuses on the activities of the London Greek Committee, supposedly founded by disciples of Jeremy Bentham, which mounted the expedition on which Lord Byron ultimately met his death in Greece. Rosen's penetrating study provides a new assessment of British philhellenism and examines for the first time the relationship between Bentham's theory of constitutional government and the emerging liberalism of the 1820s. Breaking new ground in (...) the history of political ideas and culture in the early nineteenth century, Rosen advances striking new interpretations based on recently published texts and manuscript sources of the development of constitutional theory from Locke and Montesquieu, the conflicting strands of liberalism in the 1820s, and the response in Britain to strong claims for national self-determination in the Mediterranean basin. He sets out to distinguish between Bentham's theory and the ideological context against which it is usually interpreted. (shrink)