Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Environmental law-making public opinion in Victorian Britain: The cross-currents of Bentham's and Coleridge's ideas

Pontin, Ben

Authors

Ben Pontin benjamin.pontin@uwe.ac.uk



Abstract

It is increasingly clear that law and its enforcement in Victorian Britain were quite effective in tackling formative industrial problems concerning pollution and broader threats to nature. What is unclear is the political philosophy, if any, underlying this historic achievement. A prevalent view is that early 'environmental' law lacked any philosophical underpinning (being instead a piecemeal reaction to the various problems of industrialization as and when these presented themselves). The article revisits this issue with reference to Dicey's analysis of 19th century 'lawmaking public opinion'. Dicey identified three broad streams of seminal opinion that, he argued, shaped laws as the century unfolded. The early part of the century was dominated by 'Old Toryism', including the romantic conservatism associated with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This then gave ground to 'Benthamism' (or 'individualism') which in turn ceded dominance to 'collectivism' (also influenced by Bentham's ideas). Whilst Dicey ignored laws relating to the environment, I argue that this is not because these presented a particular difficulty for his thesis. Indeed, all three seams of 'law-making opinion' converged around the legal protection of nature to offer a rich and diverse philosophical foundation for environmental law.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 1, 2014
Journal Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
Print ISSN 0143-6503
Electronic ISSN 1464-3820
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Volume 34
Issue 4
Pages 759-790
APA6 Citation Pontin, B. (2014). Environmental law-making public opinion in Victorian Britain: The cross-currents of Bentham's and Coleridge's ideas. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 34(4), 759-790. https://doi.org/10.1093/ojls/gqu015
DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/ojls/gqu015
Keywords environmental law, green industrial revolution, Coleridge, Bentham
Publisher URL http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ojls/gqu015
Related Public URLs http://ojls.oxfordjournals.org/
Additional Information Additional Information : Published online 26 July 2014.

Files







You might also like



Downloadable Citations

;