ABSTRACT

‘The definition of liberty’, wrote Jeremy Bentham in 1776, ‘is one of the corner stones of the system: and one that the author know not how to do without.’ Even though Price’s argument was the subject of considerable controversy during the passionate debate over American independence, especially as his conception of political liberty envisaged some form of self-government and widespread participation by the people, one of its main virtues lay in the coherent way in which it was able to link individual with civil and political liberty. It is important to note that Bentham rejected not only Price’s Lockean approach but also the utilitarian conceptions of Hey and Paley. Bentham’s own idea of liberty evolved during this period of Lind’s debate with Price. If liberty and law were incompatible, Bentham could not easily formulate conceptions of civil and political liberty which, for most writers, were based on the operation of law.