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Jeremy Bentham's theory of punishment

Draper, Anthony Jonathan; (1997) Jeremy Bentham's theory of punishment. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The thesis examines the historical context in which Bentham's penal thought developed, it identifies the main elements of his theory, and assesses the support given for various modes of punishment. The context of the debate is established via an analysis of the penal thought of contemporary British and European thinkers, stressing, in particular, the role of William Eden in the punishment debates of the 1770s. The similarities between Eden's and Bentham's approaches to punishment are explored. An examination of the principle elements of Bentham's theory begins with a discussion of his understanding of the sources and nature of punishment. His approach to the distribution of pain is then considered in detail, and is found to inform his entire penal theory. The 'views' and 'shapes' of mischief are described, and the relevance of this analysis, in determining motives for future offending, is assessed. Bentham's novel investigation into the distribution of pain provides a new basis for restraint in the infliction of punishment. It is argued that Bentham was intent on justifying only essential quantities of pain for the purposes of deterrence and reform, and via his development of the thirteen rules of proportion his theory is shown to provide the foundations for a general reduction in the application of legal pain. Finally, the forms of punishment supported by Bentham are discussed. It is shown how his preferred punishments changed over the course of his lifetime; firstly, he recommended a variety of corporal punishments, next panopticon imprisonment, and finally he supported non-afflictive, complex punishments. It is concluded that his innovative penal theory remained constant over the sixty years of its compilation and displays remarkable resilience and flexibility, accommodating successive changes in the forms of punishment preferred.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Jeremy Bentham's theory of punishment
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Bentham, Jeremy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10105914
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