18th/19th century English philosopher and legal scholar, an early proponent of utilitarianism
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  • Jeremy Bentham

    Jeremy Bentham (15 February 1748 [O.S. 4 February 1747] - 6 June 1832) was an English philosopher, jurist and social reformer regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.

    Reference

    Bentham, Jeremy (1748-1832), by T. Patrick Burke, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
    Biographical essay
    "Jeremy Bentham is known today chiefly as the father of utilitarianism. ... In Bentham's time, law, judicial procedures, and life in general were governed, to a much greater degree than in our own, by historical precedent and beliefs not subjected to critical examination. We owe much of the difference between his time and ours to Bentham. ... Bentham argued that a policy or procedure was in accordance with reason when it maximized utility, understood as human happiness. One must judge a program in the light not of unproven assumptions, no matter how venerable, but of its consequences for people."

    Born

    15 Feb 1748, in Spitalfields, London

    Died

    6 Jun 1832, in London

    Biography

    Who Was Jeremy Bentham?
    University College London, Bentham Project

    Web Sites

    UCL Bentham Project
    University College London

    Articles

    Bentham, by John Stuart Mill, London and Westminster Review, Aug 1838
    Opens by contrasting Bentham as a Progressive and Coleridge as a Conservative, then proceeds to examine and criticise Bentham philosophical method, and then his theories of life, law, government and utility
    "He was a man both of remarkable endowments for philosophy, and of remarkable deficiencies for it; fitted, beyond almost any man, for drawing from his premises, conclusions not only correct, but sufficiently precise and specific to be practical; but whose general conception of human nature and life furnished him with an unusually slender stock of premises."
    Reasoning on the Nature of Things, by Clarence B. Carson, The Freeman, Feb 1982
    "Jeremy Bentham said of those who believed in natural law that they 'take for their subject the pretended law of nature; an obscure phantom, which in the imaginations of those who go in chase of it, points sometimes to manners, sometimes to laws; sometimes to what law is, and sometimes to what it ought to be.'"
    The Courts and the New Deal, Part 1, by William L. Anderson, Future of Freedom, Jun 2005
    "Perhaps it is deeply ironic that in 1776, the same year the Declaration of Independence was written, the 'champion' of modern law made his own intellectual debut in England. Jeremy Bentham, who sat in Blackstone's Oxford lectures as a student, penned an anonymous attack on Blackstone entitled 'A Fragment on Government.'"
    Related Topic: William Blackstone

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.