Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Bentham Versus Blackstone

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Abstract

Gertrude Himmelfarb considers Jeremy Bentham’s A Fragment on Government, published in 1776, which she describes as a critique of seven pages of the introduction of William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England, published in four volumes 1765–1770. Himmelfarb writes, “What Blackstone and the Founding Fathers had in common, and what Bentham notably lacked, was a large tolerance for complexity.” The essay is republished by permission, having appeared in The American Scholar in 1978 and, with revisions, in Marriage and Morals Among the Victorians in 1986.