*Facultad de Gobierno y Facultad de Economía y Negocios Universidad del Desarrollo Av. La Plaza 700, Santiago, CHILE (56–2)2999314 firstname.lastname@example.org. I am grateful to René Frey (the editor) and anonymous referees of this journal for their very useful comments. Previous versions of this paper have greatly benefited from comments from Tyler Cowen, Andrew Farrant, David Levy, Carlos Scartascini, and Philip Schofield. The re-edition of Jeremy Bentham's papers on codification by the Bentham Committee at University College London has proved invaluable for the writing of this paper. Of course, the usual caveat applies.
An Expert at Work: Revisiting Jeremy Bentham's Proposals on Codification
Version of Record online: 28 OCT 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 61, Issue 4, pages 503–519, November 2008
How to Cite
Couyoumdjian, J. P. (2008), An Expert at Work: Revisiting Jeremy Bentham's Proposals on Codification. Kyklos, 61: 503–519. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6435.2008.00414.x
- Issue online: 28 OCT 2008
- Version of Record online: 28 OCT 2008
Throughout his life the English philosopher, economist and jurist Jeremy Bentham exhibited a marked interest in the design and the transfer of institutions. What is more, he was determined that his proposals illuminate the course of institutional design all over the world during his era. His work along these lines thus represents an obvious example of the work of a hands-on expert on codification. In this paper we review the theoretical and practical activities undertaken by Bentham on the issue of codification and discuss them in the context of a rational choice model of the economics of expertise. While experts may claim to be concerned with the advancement of the public interest, it seems safer to consider them as economic agents just like the rest of us. The different activities undertaken by Jeremy Bentham in terms of offering proposals for codification throughout the world in the early 19th century represent a fascinating case-study on the economics of expertise. Our examination of his activities in this sense will also allow us to discuss the contemporary relevance of Bentham's enterprise.