Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence, written in 1780-2, is the continuation of An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, and thus part of the introduction to the projected penal code on which Bentham worked in the late 1770s and early 1780s. The work emerged from Bentham's attempt to distinguish between civil and penal law, which led him into an exposition of the nature and scope of an individual law and an analysis
of such key legal terms as power, duty, right, property, contract, and conveyance. Bentham addresses the relationship between different 'aspects' of the legislator's will, such as command, prohibition, and permission, and in so doing develops a 'logic of the will' which anticipates modern deontic logic. He explains
that the disposition of the people to obey constitutes the basis of political and legal power, and distinguishes between law addressed to the sovereign and law addressed to the people. Dealing with some of the most fundamental problems in jurisprudence and the theory of human action, Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence is a work of outstanding originality and seminal importance in the field of legal philosophy.
The volume contains an Editorial Introduction which explains the provenance of the text, and the method of presentation. The text is fully annotated with textual and historical notes, and the volume is completed with detailed subject and name indices.
This edition of Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence supersedes Of Laws in General, edited by H.L.A. Hart and published by the Athlone Press in 1970, as a volume in The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.
Philip Schofield is Professor of the History of Legal and Political Thought at University College London. He is Director of the Bentham Project and General Editor of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, and has previously edited or co-edited six volumes in the edition. He has written many scholarly articles on Bentham and his monograph, Utility and Democracy: The Political Thought of Jeremy Bentham, published by OUP, won the Political Studies Association WJM Mackenzie Book Prize for 2006.
Editorial Introduction ; Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence ; Appendices ; Index of Subjects ; Index of Names