The French Revolution provided Bentham with what appeared to him to be an exciting opportunity to influence the reconstruction of the French state. Drawing on his knowledge of English political and constitutional practice, as well as the theoretical resources he had developed in his own work, he suggested imaginative and innovative measures to achieve the peaceful and constitutional reform in France. In discussing the nature of representation he produced the earliest utilitarian justification of political equality and representative democracy, even recommending women's suffrage. Moreover, he provided a major critique of the dominant constitutional theory of the division of power, including both the doctrine of the balance of powers and that of the
separation of powers. Turning his attention to Britain, for a time he advocated measures of parlimentary reform, but becoming disenchanted with the course of the Revolution he produced the celebrated 'Nonsense upon Stilts' (hitherto known as 'Anarchical Fallacies'), the most devastating attack on the theory of natural rights ever written, in which he argued that natural rights provided an unsuitable basis for stable legal and political arrangements. All the essays published in this volume, with the exception of Emancipate your Colonies!, an important early critique of colony-holding, are based on the original manuscript sources, many of which have not been previously published in any form.
Readership: Scholars and
students of the French Revolution; intellectual historians; philosophers; Bentham scholars.
"This edition is to be welcomed for making these documents from the Bentham Papers easily available, in many cases for the first time. They will be of great service not only to Bentham scholars, but also to students of the French Revolution debate and political thought on both sides of the Channel. As ever, the editors have been meticulous in reconstructing these works from Bentham's sometimes less than coherent folios and once again the Bentham Project has fully justified the time, effort and money spent on it." - English Historical Review
Considerations d'un Anglois sur la composition des Etats-Generaux
Observations d'un Anglois sur un ecrit intitule Arrete de la noblesse de Bretagne
Observations sur resultat de depouillement des cahiers
Observations on the Draughts of Declarations-of-Rights Presented to the Committee of the Constitution of the National Assembly of France
short Vies of Economy for the Use of the French Nation
Supply - New Species Proposed
Projet of a Constitutional Code for France
Necessity of an Omnipotent Legislature
Emancipate Your Colonies! Addressed to the National Convention of France
Nonsense upon Stilts, or Pandora's Box Opened, or the French Declaration of Rights Prefixed to the Constitution of 1791 Laid Open and Exposed
Link to Bentham Project home page