Economics as a science of legislation: Bentham’s analysis of security - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne Access content directly
Conference Papers Year : 2021

Economics as a science of legislation: Bentham’s analysis of security


Jeremy Bentham’s various writings on economics bear the mark of his being a philosopher of law, as proved by his conception of economics as a “science of legislation”. For him, the two fields did not differ in terms of finality: both aimed at maximizing collective happiness. The difference lay in their assigned intermediate objectives: legislation should guarantee “security” and “equality”, while political economy should provide “subsistence” and “abundance”. Bentham was aware of the existence of potential conflicts between these four intermediate objectives. This led him to rank them in a hierarchy, the highest priority for collective happiness being assigned to security. My paper aims at examining the role played by security in Bentham’s approach: it was this objective of security which linked economics and politics. The priority given to security resulted in a pragmatic and nuanced approach to State intervention in economics (section 1). My second section aims at analysing the link between security and laws: indeed, security is a product of legislation, but laws may also be a source of insecurity. Accordingly, Bentham’s economic policy prescriptions – what he called the art of economics – resulted from a calculus that combined economic and political arguments, in order to maximize happiness.
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hal-03953164 , version 1 (23-01-2023)


  • HAL Id : hal-03953164 , version 1


Nathalie Sigot. Economics as a science of legislation: Bentham’s analysis of security. Political Economy and Law since the 18th Century: Theoretical Debates and Practical Consequence, Charles Bartlett (Harvard University); Elisabetta Fiocchi Malaspina (Université de Zurich), Jul 2021, Zoom, France. ⟨hal-03953164⟩


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