Criminology | Section 3.3

Fundamentals of Criminology by Adam J. McKee

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Bentham and the Utilitarians

Bentham was regarded as the Great Utilitarian.  The behavioral maxims of human action contained in his philosophy of human nature are still regarded as scientific fact by behavioral psychologists.  Bentham’s utilitarian theory was probably the most scientific treatment of legal theory up to that time.  It was parsimonious and based on observation, and could be subjected to empirical validation (which psychologist B.F. Skinner would become famous for nearly a century later).  Utilitarianism brought human nature out of the metaphysical vacuum of the day and placed it squarely in the realm of science.

His philosophy was bitterly opposed when it was first published and remains so along with all of behavioral psychology today.  There is something intrinsically frightening to some of us in the notion that man is not a superior creature by nature.

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File Created:  08/04/2018

Last Modified:  08/13/2018

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