Bentham: Our Contemporary?

Revista da Faculdade de Direito UFPR 65 (3):173-189 (2020)
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This article aims to evaluate the contribution of Bentham’s ideas to the jurisprudential debate in view of their relevance vis a vis their contemporary reception. The focus is on Bentham’s revolutionary idea of publicity with its spill-over effects on contemporary debates on the rule of law and accountable and transparent governance. As far as the method is concerned, after having examined Bentham’s ideas on the rule of law and the debate they raised, the focus in the second section of this article is specifically on his conception of publicity. Some critical remarks then show that Bentham’s focus on publicity and transparency has been rightly interpreted in the contemporary debate as an important contribution. However, it is their justification that it is judged to be problematic. In fact, the assessment of the fundamental importance of publicity for the rule of law and transparent and accountable governance leads to a critical engagement with contemporary readings of Bentham’s scholarship, in primis that of Gerald Postema, with a development of the latter’s republican interpretation. The direction of travel that is proposed is towards a more liberal republicanism. The article not only shows how Bentham’s contribution should be revaluated in view of contemporary interpretations, but also proposes directions for further research developments according to which contemporary conceptions of regulation need to take a reflexive turn while aiming at legitimate legality at the same time.



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Gianluca Andresani
University of Aberdeen

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