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Utilitarianism and Science

Call for Papers
Utilitarisme et science
Piero Tarantino

Utilitarian philosophy, from its very beginning, has been inspired by the success of scientific practice, as can be seen in J. Bentham’s attempt to model law or ethics more generally on the methodology of physical sciences, and in J.S. Mill’s account of mathematical objects and reasoning. Similarly, in some cases scientific research has been guided by the utilitarian approach, for example in restricting animal experimentation on the basis of the principle of equity, emphasized by P. Singer.

Although the relation between utilitarianism and science is an important aspect in the history of thought and turns out to be beneficial to tackling topics at the heart of current philosophical and public debates, it has been largely underestimated and neglected. Apart from a few studies on the influence of mathematics or physics on Bentham and Mill’s thought, and the successful application of the utilitarian view to animal ethics, utilitarianism and science have been regarded as two apparently independent and quite separate domains.

The Revue d’études benthamiennes ( invites submissions for a special issue, which aims not only to throw light on the influence of scientific theory on utilitarian philosophy, on the one hand, and the influence of utilitarian thought on scientific practice, on the other, but also to offer a substantial and longstanding contribution to bridging the gap between utilitarianism and science. The purpose is thus to explore how, in what respect and to what extent the cooperation between the utilitarian philosophy and scientific research was and still can be useful for contemplating crucial questions concerning reality, mind and human behaviour.

Contributors, who will be specialists in different fields in the humanities and sciences, will deal with problems at the intersection of philosophy and the scientific realm within a utilitarian framework. The issue of the Revue d’études benthamiennes will provide a historical clarification of the connections between utilitarian thought and scientific disciplines, and will offer a systemic examination of the beneficial effects which the interrelation between utilitarian principles and scientific applications can give. We hope, in this way, to draw attention to the scientific aspects and implications of the utilitarian philosophy from an interdisciplinary point of view.

Anyone interested in contributing to the special issue “Utilitarianism and Science” of the Revue d’études benthamiennes is encouraged to contact Dr Piero Tarantino ( The deadline for submission of abstracts (150-300 words) is 15 September 2019.

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