Sidgwick's Utilitarian Analysis of Law: A Bridge from Bentham to Becker?
Posted: 16 Jun 2008
Date Written: Spring 2007
Jeremy Bentham's utilitarian analysis of crime and punishment is regularly characterized as an inspiration for the economic analysis of law, whereas Henry Sidgwick has been all but ignored in the discussions of the history of law and economics. Sidgwick is well known as the godfather of Cambridge welfare economics. Yet, as we will show, his utilitarian analysis of issues in property, contract, tort, and, criminal law reflects themes now associated with the Chicago approach and advances on Bentham in multiple ways—including through the use of marginal analysis—making him a bridge on the road from Bentham to Becker.
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