Utilitarianism and Empire

Utilitarianism and Empire

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The classical utilitarian legacy of Jeremy Bentham, J. S. Mill, James Mill, and Henry Sidgwick has often been charged with both theoretical and practical complicity in the growth of British imperialism and the emerging racialist discourse of the nineteenth century. But there has been little scholarly work devoted to bringing together the conflicting interpretive perspectives on this legacy and its complex evolution with respect to orientalism and imperialism. This volume, with contributions by leading scholars in the field, represents the first attempt to survey the full range of current scholarly controversy on how the classical utilitarians conceived of 'race' and the part it played in their ethical and political programs, particularly with respect to such issues as slavery and the governance of India. The book both advances our understanding of the history of utilitarianism and imperialism and promotes the scholarly debate, clarifying the major points at issue between those sympathetic to the utilitarian legacy and those critical of it.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 274 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.1 x 15.2mm | 362.88g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739105752
  • 9780739105757

Table of contents

Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Jeremy Bentham on Slavery and the Slave Trade Chapter 3 Jeremy Bentham: Legislator of the World Chapter 4 James Mill's The History of British India: The Question of Utilitarianism and Empire Chapter 5 Mill on Happiness: The Enduring Value of a Complex Critique Chapter 6 Liberalism's Limits: Carlyle and Mill on "The Negro Question" Chapter 7 Empire, Race, and Euro-centrism: John Stewart Mill and His Critics Chapter 8 Chairing the Jamaica Committee: J. S. Mill and the Limits of Colonial Authority Chapter 9 The Early Utilitarians, Race, and Empire: The State of the Argument Chapter 10 Imagining Darwinism Chapter 11 Sidgwick's Racism
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Review quote

Ultimately, the test of a good book lies not only in the debates it is able to reconcile, but also those into which it breathes fresh life. On both counts, this collection admirably succeeds, and it would make a very worthwile addition to a reading course in modern intellectual history. Victorian Studies This book is a welcome return to the views of classical utilitarians on empire and imperialism...It is most successful in constructing a conversation, sometimes muted, at times agitated, between the various papers. Most edited collections faile to createsuch a reading experience, and the editors are to be commended for choosing the right authors and papers and for organising the book in a logical fashion...
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About Georgios Varouxakis

Bart Schultz is Fellow and Lecturer in the Humanities Division and Humanities Collegiate Division, and Special Programs Coordinator in the Graham School of General Studies, at the University of Chicago. He is also the winner of the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History, in recognition of his book Henry Sidgwick - The Eye of the Universe: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge University Press, 2004). Georgios Varouxakis is Senior Lecturer in the History Department of Queen Mary, University of London.
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