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The Bentham Project


The blog of UCL's Bentham Project, producing the authoritative edition of 'The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham'


Archive for the 'Events' Category

Bentham and Colombia

By Kris Grint, on 29 July 2013

Bentham and Colombia posterIn July 2013 we welcomed Professor Gonzalo Ramírez from the Universidad Externado de Colombia to the Bentham Project as part of UCL’s International Teaching Excellence Bursary Scheme. In the course of his stay, Professor Ramírez  delivered two fascinating seminars on the subject of Jeremy Bentham and the influence of his philosophy on Colombia.

Professor Ramírez’s first seminar attracted scholars from a wide range of disciplines, from legal philosophers and historians to to those with interests in South American studies. Commencing with an overview of the constitutional history of nineteenth-century Colombia, Professor Ramírez went on to trace the specific influence of Bentham’s thought on this topic. Although Bentham himself never visited Latin America, his philosophy was diffused via the Spanish translation of Dumont’s Traités (published in 1821) and through his extensive correspondence with important Latin American political figures, such as General Francisco de Miranda, Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander. The seminar also included a survey of scholarly work which has hitherto focused on Bentham and Colombia, and several hints at where future research should be directed. We are excited to see where this line of study will take Professor Ramírez in the hopefully not-too-distant future!

Gonzalo Ramírez at UCL

In the second seminar, focus switched from the historical to the pedagogical, with Professor Ramírez discussing the novel teaching methods he has employed whilst teaching a course on Bentham at the Universidad Externado de Colombia. Highlighting the use of blogs, social media and podcasts, Professor Ramírez offered valuable advice on how to adopt and utilize these new technologies for teaching purposes. Indeed, perhaps the most impressive feature of the Colombian Bentham course is the weekly podcast produced by the students, which both builds upon the ideas discussed in the seminars and allows distant learners to develop a taste for Bentham scholarship. The seminar also featured a video of Professor Philip Schofield’s (Director of the Bentham Project) recent Skype appearance at the Universidad Externado de Colombia – another example of the innovative use of new technology in academic teaching.

The Bentham Project wishes to thank Professor Ramírez for his excellent contributions whilst at UCL and Ciarán Moynihan and Lorraine Dardis at UCL’s Office for International Affairs for their assistance in organizing the visit.

View or download the slides for these seminars: Bentham and Colombia slides 1Bentham and Colombia slides 2


Transcribe Bentham on display

By Tim Causer, on 6 June 2013

Earlier this year, UCL opened its new Octagon Gallery, a new exhibition space for displaying research being carried out at the College. Each exhibition lasts six months, and the newest is on the theme of ‘Digital Transformations’, curated by Claire Ross, Research Assistant at UCL’s Department of Information Studies and Centre for Digital Humanities (amongst other things, Claire is the lead researcher on the award-winning QRator project).

Claire has very kindly included Transcribe Bentham in her exhibition. Four Bentham manuscripts have been installed in the exhibition: JB/027/026/004 (transcribed by Diane Folan), in which Bentham recalls setting fire to ear-wigs as a child; JB/107/110/001 and JB/107/110/002 (transcribed by Joy Lloyd, Chris Leeder, and Melissa Rogers), in which Bentham sets out a series of recipes for his panopticon prison; and JB/079/047/001 as an (admittedly extreme) example of the challenges faced by Transcribe Bentham volunteers in attempting to decipher Bentham’s manuscripts. Below the manuscripts is an interactive ‘data rail’, which shows the transcripts and some contextual information.

Needless to say, we are delighted that the work of Transcribe Bentham‘s volunteers is being showcased in such a prominent spot, and will show off both their considerable efforts and the sort of discoveries which are being made through their transcripts.

We hope that those in the London area might be able to visit, and for those further away, below are a few pictures of the TB part of the exhibit.

(Thanks again to Claire for having TB included in the exhibition, and to UCL Special Collections for their work in preparing and installing the manuscripts).



Transcribe Bentham and the 2011 Digital Heritage Award

By Tim Causer, on 8 December 2011

Hot on the heels of Transcribe Bentham‘s Award of Distinction in this year’s Prix Ars Electronica, the world’s premier digital arts competition, we learned in mid-October from Dr Melissa Terras, of UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities and part of the TB team, that the project had been nominated for the 2011 Digital Heritage Award. This award was to be voted on and presented at the Digital Strategies for Heritage conference in Rotterdam, from 6 to 9 December.

The other nominees for the award were as follows:

The award focused specifically upon crowdsourcing projects, and it was a great honour to be nominated among such exalted company – any of these four would be more than worth winners.

Melissa, who is giving a full paper on Transcribe Bentham at the conference today, presented the project to the conference attendees to a warm reception. Here is an extract from Melissa’s blog:

Yesterday was a fairly big day: Transcribe Bentham was one of the 5 international projects nominated for the Digital Heritage Award 2011 (you can see our specific nomination here). I had to give a 3 minute pitch in front of the entire crowd on behalf of the project team, bright lights and all, in the opening plenary session, followed by manning an information booth, above, in all the breaks to solicit votes. You can see the voting system above – people had to place a sticker on our sheet. By the end of the day we had filled quite a few of these – fantastic to have such support, and I talked to a lot of very interesting and interested people about the project. The winner of the award was Digital Koot, well done all! – a little bird tells me we came a close runner up. But to be honest, having the opportunity to pitch to such a large audience, and meet so many interesting people, was wonderful, and it was an honour to be nominated. All good fun.

A hearty well done to the Digital Koot team from all here at the Bentham Project and Transcribe Bentham, and congratulations to Melissa for running it so close! Many, many thanks too to all for the support shown to the project.

ISUS XII: Call for Papers

By Tim Causer, on 21 November 2011

The 12th Conference of the International Society for Utilitarian Studies (ISUS) will be held from 8 to 11 August at the Stern School of Business, New York University, 40-44 West 4th Street, New York.

ISUS XII welcomes proposals for papers and sessions on all subjects related to utilitarianism, including moral philosophy, economics, psychology, political theory, intellectual history, environment, law and jurisprudence.

Proposals should be submitted as abstracts of about 400 words for a 15-20 minute paper, or of 600 words for a session of three to four papers (together with abstracts of the session papers) by no later than 15 March 2012 to isus2012@gmail.com. All proposals should include the title and subject of each paper, the presenter’s name, institutional affiliation, and any technology requests (e.g. Powerpoint, video etc).

The ISUS Committee will award a prize of £250 for the best paper presented at the conference by a graduate student.

Important dates:

  • Deadline for proposal submissions: 15 March 2012
  • Notification of accepted/rejected proposals: 1 May 2012
  • Deadline for submission of full papers: 15 July 2012

Confirmed Panels and Plenary Speakers
Opening Keynote Address

  • Roger Crisp (Oxford, Philosophy): ‘What is Utilitarianism?’

Neuroscience and Ethics Panel

  • Joshua Greene (Harvard, Psychology): Principal speaker
  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Duke, Philosophy): Chair

Jeremy Bentham in the History of Political Thought

  • David Armitage (Harvard, History): Principal speaker
  • Philip Schofield (UCL, Laws)

 History of Utilitarian Thought

  • James Moore (Concordia University, Political Science): Principal speaker, ‘Hume’s Influence on the Development of Utilitarianism’

Environment and Utilitarianism

  • Tim Mulgan (St Andrews, Philosophy): Principal speaker, ‘Ethics for a Broken World’


The International Society for Utilitarian StudiesISUS – provides a forum for scholarly debate and research on utilitarianism and its historical development, and on its present-day relevance in such fields as ethics, law, economics, political theory, and public policy.   http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/isus

ISUS also publishes the journal Utilitas, a leading international review presenting original research in all aspects of utilitarian theory and encompassing the disciplines of moral philosophy, economics, psychology, political theory, intellectual history, law and jurisprudence.

Bentham Seminar Series, 2012

By Tim Causer, on 2 November 2011

This year’s series of Bentham Seminars have been confirmed, and will take place during February and March 2012. They will be held between 11am and 1pm in the Committee Room in the School of Public Policy at UCL (Rubin Building, 29/30 Tavistock Square).

For further information, please contact Phil Baker (philip.baker@ucl.ac.uk). All are welcome!

The speakers will be as follows:

29 February 2012

Dr Emmanuelle de Champs (Paris VIII), Bentham in the Twentieth Century: A Survey of the Times Literary Supplement

7 March 2012

Dr Tim Causer (UCL), Jeremy Bentham’s and Alexander Maconochie’s Theories of Punishment

14 March 2012

James Shafe (UCL), Utilitarian Public Reason

21 March 2012

Professor Claire Grant (University of Leicester), Sex and Pleasure


New Directions in Bentham Studies: An International Symposium, 9 December 2011

By Tim Causer, on 7 September 2011

To help mark the relaunch of the Journal of Bentham Studies in a new online home as part of UCL’s open-access repository of research, the Bentham Project is hosting a one-day international symposium exploring recent developments and new avenues of research in Bentham studies, at which several distinguished scholars will speak.




Malik Bozzo-Rey (Catholic University of Lille):Could Indirect Legislation be Normative?

Marco Guidi (University of Pisa): ‘Is there a Political Economy of Legal Procedure in Bentham’s Thought?




Gianfranco Pellegrino, (Bentham Project, UCL): ‘The Benthams’ Euclidean Training: Jeremy Bentham’s Writings on Mathematics in their Historical and Theoretical Context

Vincent-Emmanuel Mathon, ‘Bentham’s Geometrics as Applied to the Internet Age and the Global Economy




Peter Niesen (Darmstadt University of Technology): ‘Bentham on Deliberation

Michael Quinn (Bentham Project, UCL): ‘Which Comes First, Bentham’s Chicken of Utility, or His Egg of Truth?




Philip Steadman (Emeritus Professor of Urban and Built Form Studies, Bartlett School, UCL): ‘Samuel Bentham’s Panopticon’.


Philip Schofield (Bentham Project, UCL): Closing Remarks, and a New Discovery

Venue: Keeton Room, Bentham House, UCL

Attendance is open to all, and is free, but to register your place please email Phil Baker (philip.baker@ucl.ac.uk). For directions to Bentham House, please visit

This event is supported by the JISC-funded UCL E-Publishing Infrastructure Capitalising on UCL’s Repository (EPICURE) project.

Conway Memorial Lecture, 26 October 2011, by Professor Philip Schofield

By Tim Causer, on 7 September 2011

Professor Philip Schofield, Director of the Bentham Project, will this year give the Conway Memorial Lecture, entitled ‘Jeremy Bentham: Prophet of Secularism’.

The event is held at Conway Hall in Holborn, and takes place at 6.30pm on Wednesday 26 October. Tickets are free, but restricted to two per person.