Class Notes on the Meaning and nature of ‘Jurisprudence’

Jeremy Bentham

Jeremy Bentham was a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. His view on Jurisprudence helps LLB Students.

The “greatest happiness principle”, or the principle of utility, forms the cornerstone of all Bentham’s thought. By “happiness”, he understood a predominance of “pleasure” over “pain”. He wrote in The Principles of Morals and Legislation:

Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure. It is for them alone to point out what we ought to do, as well as to determine what we shall do. On the one hand the standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and effects, are fastened to their throne. They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think …

Bentham was the first person to aggressively advocate for the codification of all of the common law into a coherent set of statutes; he was actually the person who coined the verb “to codify” to refer to the process of drafting a legal code.

John Austin

John Austin is best known for his work developing the theory of legal positivism. Among other things he attempted in this to clearly separate moral rules from “positive law.”

The three basic points of Austin’s theory of law are that:

  • the law is command issued by the uncommanded commander—the sovereign;
  • such commands are backed by threats of sanctions; and
  • a sovereign is one who is habitually obeyed

Austin was greatly influenced in his utilitarian approach to law by Jeremy Bentham.

Thomas Erskine Holland




Dias and Hughes


Sheldon Amos



Purpose and value of Jurisprudence

Schools of Jurisprudence

Natural law

Imperative Theory

Legal Realism

Historical School

Sociological School