Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Jeremy Bentham on open government and privacy

Tyler, Colin



This article sketches the key political dimensions of Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism, focusing particularly on the central importance that he placed on freedom of information as a necessary condition for the effective monitoring of public officials by civil society groups and individual citizens. Section two outlines the critical dimensions of Bentham’s political theory, particularly the need to debunk metaphorical and obscure language so as to enable citizens to understand the real forces and interests at work in their world. Section three turns to his later constitutional theory, emphasising its radically-democratic elements. Section four focuses on Bentham’s theory of open government, emphasizing its reliance on public scrutiny of the actions of office-holders, a function that he assigned to what he called the Public Opinion Tribunal. Section five analyses the place that he ascribed to personal privacy through a discussion of his liberal attitude to sexual practices. Section six reflects on the cogency and contemporary relevance of Bentham’s theory.


Tyler, C. (2017). Jeremy Bentham on open government and privacy. Journal of Information Ethics, 26(1), 112-129

Acceptance Date Oct 20, 2016
Publication Date 2017-01
Deposit Date Jan 18, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 29, 2018
Journal Journal of information ethics
Print ISSN 1061-9321
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 1
Pages 112-129
Keywords Jeremy Bentham, Utilitarianism
Public URL
Additional Information This is a description of an article published in: Journal of information ethics, 2017, v.26 issue 1.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations