May 5, 2015
Jeremy Bentham has two very strong commitments in his thought: one is to the principle of utility, or the greatest happiness principle, as the fundamental principle of morality; the other is to truth, as indicated, for instance, in his opposition to falsehood and fiction in the law. How, then, did Bentham view the relationship between utility and truth? Did he think that utility and truth simply coincided, and hence that falsehood necessarily led to a diminution in happiness, and conversely truth led to an increase in happiness? In this lecture, Philip Schofield resolves these questions through analysis of two bodies of material: the first consists of Bentham’s writings on religion under the heading of ‘Juggernaut’ and dating from 1811 to 1821; and the second consists of the writings on judicial evidence dating from 1803 to 1812 and which appeared in his Rationale of Judicial Evidence.