Liberty as a caricature: Bentham’s antidote to republicanism

Yiftah Elazar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article reconsiders Bentham’s theory of liberty in relation to republican and democratic ideas in the Age of Revolution. It reinterprets his jurisprudential definitions of liberty as ideological weapons intended to “cut the throat” of pro-American and proto-democratic discourse. In particular, his negative definition of individual liberty and his democratic and international definitions of political liberty were designed and used to caricature and draw to absurdity the republican ideal of self-government. The early Bentham, according to this interpretation, was a subversive critic of republicanism, who occupied its language of liberty and security while trying to neutralize its democratic potential.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)417-439
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the History of Ideas
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

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© by Journal of the History of Ideas.


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