Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Bernard Mandeville's greatest literary work, The Fable of the Bees: or, Private Vices, Public Benefits, has long been considered to be a systematic defense of utilitarianism. From the early eighteenth century--during which time there was a controversy between the proponents of traditional Christian ethics and the utilitarian ethics--until our time, his literary work as been interpreted as a blend of satire and pre-utilitarian thought. But his work is hardly confined to a defense of thee utilitarian system of ethics; nor does his work ever seem to convey more than a limited acceptance of any of the utilitarian premises, which hold that society should be governed in ways that tend to insure the self-interest and material well-being of the citizens by promoting the economic welfare of the state. Instead, Mandeville maintains an ironic stance throughout the Fable that is satirically critical of much, though not all, of the utilitarian ethic. The ethical standard by which he judged the utilitarian one, and found it lacking, is an orthodox Christian one, of an Old Testament leaning, which values honesty, humility, and an unselfish respect for one's fellow human beings.



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