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An Expert at Work: Revisiting Jeremy Bentham's Proposals on Codification

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  • Juan Pablo Couyoumdjian

Abstract

Throughout his life the English philosopher, economist and jurist Jeremy Bentham exhibited a marked interest in the design and the transfer of institutions. What is more, he was determined that his proposals illuminate the course of institutional design all over the world during his era. His work along these lines thus represents an obvious example of the work of a hands-on expert on codification. In this paper we review the theoretical and practical activities undertaken by Bentham on the issue of codification and discuss them in the context of a rational choice model of the economics of expertise. While experts may claim to be concerned with the advancement of the public interest, it seems safer to consider them as economic agents just like the rest of us. The different activities undertaken by Jeremy Bentham in terms of offering proposals for codification throughout the world in the early 19-super-th century represent a fascinating case-study on the economics of expertise. Our examination of his activities in this sense will also allow us to discuss the contemporary relevance of Bentham's enterprise. Copyright 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Kyklos.

Volume (Year): 61 (2008)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 503-519

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Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:61:y:2008:i:4:p:503-519

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