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Ricardo and the Utilitarians

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The paper discusses Ricardo's relationship to Mill and Bentham. It discusses first the origins of the myth of Ricardo's dependence from Bentham through Mill, and Halévy's contribution to the freezing of such a myth. The paper reconstructs what were their shared political commitments and activities and the kind of specific political views and agenda that may be ascribed to Ricardo himself.

The paper then discusses the question of Ricardo's adhesion to Benthamite ethics. It examines fragments in Ricardo's correspondence with Maria Edgeworth and Francis Place, and adds fresh light on the issue by highlighting the partial overlapping between Bentham's ethics and the kind of intuitionism with theological consequentialism that Ricardo had learned from the Unitarian minister, Thomas Belsham.
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Keywords: David Ricardo; James Mill; Jeremy Bentham; methodology; utilitarianism; utility; value

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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