Liberty as a Caricature: Bentham’s Antidote to Republicanism

JMC Fellow and Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Yiftah Elazar has published “Liberty as a Caricature: Bentham’s Antidote to Republicanism” in the July 2015 edition of the Journal of the History of Ideas.  

In this article, Elazar reconsiders Bentham’s theory of liberty in relation to republican and democratic ideas in the Age of Revolution. He reinterprets Bentham’s jurisprudential definitions of liberty as ideological weapons intended to “cut the throat” of pro-American and proto-democratic discourse. In particular, Elazar claims that Bentham’s negative definition of individual liberty and his democratic and international definitions of political liberty were designed and used to caricature and draw to absurdity the republican ideal of self-government. The early Bentham, according to this interpretation, was a subversive critic of republicanism, who occupied its language of liberty and security while trying to neutralize its democratic potential.

For the full article, see here.