Jeremy Bentham, Rational Dissent and the Transportation Debate

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Jeremy Bentham was the leader of those secular utilitarians who were appalled at the re-introduction of transportation for the punishment of crime. There would appear to be a fundamental division between his views and those of Christian advocates for terror and retribution, or for humanitarian comforts for the guilty. But this is not the case. The Bentham Project has uncovered a number of ways in which Bentham collaborated with religious reformers of the prison. What divided Christian and utilitarian reformers was Bentham’s belief that transportation was a fatally defective system when compared with the utilitarian advantages of his reforming machines for prisoners. This does not mean Bentham was without influence on reformers from across the denominational spectrum. This talk will look at the impact of Benthamite utilitarianism on the many attempts to reform rather than abolish transportation. It will review the various ways in which Bentham interacted and engaged with Christian reformers to advance a different vision of reformed humanity in Britain and convict colonization in Australia.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJeremy Bentham and Australia
EditorsTim Causer
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherUCL Press
Publication statusIn preparation - 2020


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