UCL Laws Staff

UCL Laws People

Philip Schofield   PHILIP SCHOFIELD
Professor of the History of Legal and Political Thought

contact details:
phone: +44 (0)20 7679 1457 | internal: x21457
email: p.schofield@ucl.ac.uk

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Inaugural lecture

Philip Schofield is Professor of the History of Legal and Political Thought, Director of the Bentham Project and General Editor of the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.

He is Secretary of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies, which organizes major international conferences. The ninth ISUS Conference was the hugely successful John Stuart Mill Bicentennial Conference held at UCL in April 2006, which was co-organized by Professor Schofield with Dr Georgios Varouxakis (QMUL). The tenth Conference, organized by Professor David Lieberman, was held at Berkeley in September 2008. Forthcoming conferences will be held at Lucca (June 2011) and New York (2012). For more details see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/info/isus.htm

Professor Schofield is Chair of the Bentham Seminar, where scholars present new research into all aspects of Bentham studies. For a list of forthcoming seminars see the Bentham Project web-site.

Professor Schofield's major study of Bentham's political thought, Utility and Democracy: the political thought of Jeremy Bentham , was published by Oxford University Press in 2006. The book draws on an extensive range of unpublished manuscripts and original printed texts, and on the new, authoritative edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham . A further distinctive feature lies in its thorough investigation of the intimate relationship between Bentham's political thought on the one hand, and his legal and religious thought on the other. The book begins with a lucid account of Bentham's theory of logic and language, which is shown to underpin his utilitarianism, and provide the rationale for his attack on the related doctrines of natural law and natural rights. It then investigates the factors which led Bentham to produce the first major utilitarian defence of democracy. In contrast to previous scholarship, which claims that Bentham's ‘conversion' or ‘transition' to political radicalism took place either at the time of the French Revolution or subsequent to his meeting with James Mill in 1808 or 1809, this book argues that the process was longer and more complex, beginning around 1804 when the notion of sinister interest emerged in Bentham's thought. Bentham came to appreciate that rulers, rather than being motivated by a desire to promote the greatest happiness of the community as a whole, wished to promote their own selfish or sinister interest. The solution lay in the establishment of representative democracy, where publicity could make the actions of officials transparent, and thus render rulers genuinely accountable to the people.

The book was awarded the prestigious WJM Mackenzie Book Prize for 2006 by the Political Studies Association. It was published in a paperback version in May 2009.

Professor Schofield has published an introduction to Bentham's life and thought. His Bentham: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum, 2009) highlights Bentham's relevance to contemporary debates in philosophy, politics, and law. Key concepts and themes, such as Bentham's theory of logic and language, his utilitarianism, his legal theory, his panopticon prison, and his democratic politics, together with his views on religion, sex, and torture, are lucidly explored.

Professor Schofield has edited or co-edited seven volumes in the new Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, and has made major contributions to several more in his role as General Editor. His new edition of Bentham's Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence , has superseded H.L.A. Hart's edition of Of Laws in General, as a volume in the new edition of Laws in General. He is supervising work on new, authoritative editions of Bentham's works on, evidence and judicial procedure, religion, and political and legal writings for Spain and Portugal.

He has published numerous studies related to his work on Bentham, for instance in the Journal of Legal History, Utilitas economics, logic and language, policitical fallicies, sexual morality, and History of Political Thought, and History of European Ideas.



Current Teaching
Jeremy Bentham and the Utilitarian Tradition


This page last modified 23 January, 2014 by Laws Webmaster