An "ingenious Moralist": Bernard Mandeville as a Precursor of Bentham

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Abstract

This article argues that Bernard Mandeville's ideas were more likely to have influenced Jeremy Bentham's writings than previously believed. The conventional interpretation of Mandeville as a forerunner of the Hayekian "theory of spontaneous order" has obscured Mandeville and Bentham's shared emphasis on legal and interventionist solutions for the issues of prostitution and prisoners. This influence is evinced by focusing on some of Mandeville's minor works, which anticipated some of Bentham's arguments. It is unlikely that Bentham directly knew of Mandeville's minor works, but his reformist and interventionist bent was consistent and discernible in the Fable, which Jeremy Bentham read in his youth.

Original languageEnglish
JournalUtilitas
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020 Jan 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science

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