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The Four Best Books on or by Jeremy Bentham

Lennox Johnson Books

From beginner-friendly introductions to classic works by Jeremy Bentham, this page features books to suit any learning style. It’s important to note that there is no single best book on Bentham. The best book for you will depend heavily on your preferred learning style and the amount of time/energy you’re willing to spend reading. For example, if you tend to find classic works of philosophy difficult to understand, you might want to start with a short, beginner-friendly introduction. If you prefer more depth, you can choose a more comprehensive introduction or read Bentham for yourself.

It’s also worth noting that it is not a list of personal recommendations. Personal book recommendations tend to be highly subjective, idiosyncratic, and unreliable. This list is part of a collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists which aim to provide a central resource for philosophy book recommendations. These lists were created by searching through hundreds of university course syllabi, internet encyclopedia bibliographies, and community recommendations. Links to the syllabi and other sources used to create this list are at the end of the post. Following these links will help you quickly find a broader range of options if the listed books do not fit what you are looking for.

Here are the best books on or by Jeremy Bentham in no particular order.

Bentham: A Guide for the Perplexed – Philip Schofield

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 192 pages | Published: 2009 Bentham: A Guide for the Perplexed Book Cover

Publisher description: Bentham: A Guide for the Perplexed presents a clear account of his life and thought, and highlights his relevance to contemporary debates in philosophy, politics, and law. Key concepts and themes, including Bentham’s theory of logic and language, his utilitarianism, his legal theory, his panopticon prison, and his democratic politics-together with his views on religion, sex, and torture-are lucidly explored. The book also contains an illuminating discussion of the nature of the text from the perspective of an experienced textual editor.

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Bentham – James Steintrager

Category: Short Introduction | Length: 134 pages | Published: 2012 Bentham Book Cover

Publisher description: First published in 1977 this volume challenges the accepted interpretations of Bentham’s political thought and in particular the landmark criticism by John Stuart Mill and Elie Halévy, the author consulted the extensive manuscript collections left by Bentham to the University of London and the British museum in the preparation of this volume.

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Selected Writings – Jeremy Bentham

Category: Anthology | Length: 560 pages | Published: 2011 Selected Writings Book Cover

Publisher description: Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), philosopher and reformer, is one of the most influential thinkers of the modern age. This introduction to his writings presents a representative selection of texts authoritatively restored by the Bentham Project, University College London. As well as more familiar pieces on utility, law, and politics/policy, highlights include the succinct essay “On Retrenchment” and a never-before-published treatise on sex. The volume is completed by major interpretative essays by Mark Canuel, David Lieberman, Jennifer Pitts, and Philip Schofield.

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An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation – Jeremy Bentham

Category: Classic | Length: 456 pages An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation Book Cover

Publisher description: An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislations, Jeremy Bentham’s best-known work, is a classic text in modern philosophy and jurisprudence. First published in 1789, it contains the important statement of the foundations of utilitarian philosophy and a pioneering study of crime and punishment, both of which remain at the heart of contemporary debates in moral and political philosophy, economics, and legal theory. A new introduction by the leading Bentham scholar F. Rosen, specially written for this edition, provides students with a helpful survey of Bentham’s main ideas and an extensive bibliographical study of recent critical work on Bentham.

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The following sources were used to build this list:

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Additional Resources

You might also be interested in the following reading lists:

Or browse this collection of over 100 philosophy reading lists to find more philosophy book recommendations.


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