Bentham Project


Official Aptitude Maximized; Expense Minimized

ed. Philip Schofield (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1993) pp. li, 504.

These essays were written at various times between 1810 and 1830 and deal with the means of achieving efficient and economical government. In considering a wide range of themes in the fields of constitutional law, public finance, and legal reform, Bentham places the problem of official corruption at the centre of his analysis. He contrasts his own recommendations for good administration, which he had fully developed in his magisterial Constitutional Code, with the severe deficiencies he saw in English practice. The core of the volume consists of four major essays directed against the principles and policies of four leading statesmen: Edmund Burke, George Rose, Robert Peel, and Lord Chancellor Eldon. Of particular concern to Bentham were the abuses sanctioned by the judges and their officials in the Westminster Hall courts, which, he argued, resulted in the denial of justice to the majority of the population. In this volume, Bentham not only displays the precise logical reasoning for which he is well known, but also his considerable skills as a rhetorician of reform.