Bentham’s Political Economy

Date / time: 16 December - 17 December, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Bentham's Political Economy

The philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) is celebrated as both the founder of classical utilitarianism and a profound theorist of law. Despite his seminal treatment of rationality as cost–benefit analysis, and his recognition of the phenomenon of diminishing marginal utility however, he is often either overlooked altogether in histories of economic thought, or relegated to the status of a footnote. The Bentham Project and UCL Faculty of Laws are therefore delighted to be hosting a conference, to be held on 16–17 December 2019, on Bentham’s Political Economy.

Please visit the conference Eventbrite page ( for more details and to register, and for any enquiries please contact the conference convenor Dr Michael Quinn (

Day 1: Monday 16 December 2019

  • 9.00–9.30: Registration and coffee
  • 9.30–9.45: Welcome by Philip Schofield (UCL Bentham Project)
  • 9.45–11.00: Richard Whatmore (St Andrews): ‘Bentham and the end of enlightenment’
  • 11.00–11.20: coffee break
  • 11.20–12.35: Panel 1 Adrian Walsh (University of New England, Australia): ‘Bentham’s Objections to Traditional Usury Doctrine: their normative underpinnings and historical significance’, Benjamin Bourcier (Lille Catholic University): ‘The politics of international commerce in debate: Smith and Bentham’
  • 12.35–1.45: Lunch
  • 1.45–3.00: Marco Guidi (Pisa): Title to be confirmed
  • 3.00–3.20: coffee break
  • 3.20–4.40: Panel 2 Andy Denis (City): ‘Jeremy Bentham: from laisse-faire to dirigisme, and from natural law via atomism to a secular organicism’, Michael Quinn (UCL Bentham Project): ‘Bentham’s Political Economy: Economics or Politics?’

Day 2: Tuesday 17 December 2019

  • 9.00–9.30: registration and coffee
  • 9.30–10.45: Stephen Engelmann (Illinois at Chicago): ‘Bentham, Political Economy, and Economic Rationality’
  • 10.45–11.05: coffee break
  • 11.05–12.35: Panel 3 E.G. Gallwey (Harvard University): ‘Empires, Republics, and Financial Democracy: Jeremy Bentham and Albert Gallatin in the political economy of the early United States’, Vincent-Emmanuel Mathon: ‘Tokenizing Bentham: Paper, Gold, and Crypto-currencies’
  • 12.35–1.45: Lunch
  • 1.45–3.15: Panel 4 Anthony Howe (University of East Anglia): ‘Richard Cobden and the Benthamite legacy’, Michael Drolet (Worcester College, Oxford): ‘From Utility to Radical Equality: the case of Jeremy Bentham and Joseph Rey’
  • 3.15–3.35: coffee break
  • 3.35–4.50: Annie Cot (Paris I): Title to be confirmed
  • 4.50: Michael Quinn and Philip Schofield: closing remarks

The Bentham Project is grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for funding the conference, and for their generosity in funding editorial work on the final three of five volumes comprizing Writings on Political Economy, a major sub-project in the new authoritative edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham. We are also grateful to the Economic and Social Research Council, whose earlier grant supported the editing of the first two volumes.