Publication Date


Document Type

Working Paper


Professor John Hall

Journal of Economic Literature Classification Codes

B13, B31, B41

Key Words

Jeremy Bentham, Microeconomics, Neoclassical Revolution, W. Stanley Jevons, Utility Theory


This inquiry seeks to establish that in The Theory of Political Economy, W. Stanley Jevons offers a selective interpretation of Jeremy Bentham’s notion of utility. Moreover, Jevons does so in a manner that generates enduring implications for Economics as a science. Special emphasis is placed upon Jevons’ use of Bentham’s understanding of the circumstances that direct pursuits of pleasure and avoidance of pain. Emphasized is that Jevons’ omission of ‘fecundity, purity, and extent’ as quantifiers of utility, creates enduring implications that emerged years after his book’s publication in 1871. What is finally considered are some of the difficulties associated with creating and using science, employing as an illustrative example, Jevons’ selective use of Bentham’s notion of utility and its implications in the formation of neoclassical economics.

Persistent Identifier