ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL THEORIES
IN every social philosophy, and in particular in the Utilitarian doctrine, there is, over and above the juridical problem, a double problem, on the one hand economic and on the other constitutional or political.
In order to support the officials whose business it is to make the laws, to apply them, to see that they are carried out, and to defend the nation against foreign enemies, the State must impose pecuniary charges on the citizens and injure their economic interests, at least in a relative and temporary manner. Further the State can set itself to protect the economic interests of the citizens against competition from outside) and, within, to protect the economic interests of any particular class. In a word, the State assigns itself an economic function. It was in 1776, in his Wealth of Nations, that Adam Smith tried to solve the economic problem by taking his stand on the principle of utility. In 1787, in his first attempt at political economy, Bentham adopted the fundamental ideas of Adam Smith.
The legislating, policing, and tax-collecting State may be of many various types. It may be either monarchic, aristocratic or democratic, or again it may be mixed, containing a combination of monarchic, aristocratic or democratic elements. But every State has a constitution. In 1776, in his Fragment on Government, which was inspired by David Hume, Bentham founded a criticism of current constitutional doctrines on the principle of utility.
Thus, in economic and constitutional as in juridical affairs, Bentham, the disciple of David Hume and Adam Smith, was a typical representative of the dawning Utilitarian movement. We shall now inquire how the principle of utility was applied by the eighteenth century advocates of the Utilitarian thesis, and in particular by Bentham, the future head of the school, to the questions of political economy and constitutional law.