Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832)
Born February 15, 1748, Jeremy Bentham, was an English philosopher, economist and theoretical jurist, the earliest and chief expounder of utilitarianism. (Plamentaz, 2013) He was the first to produce a utilitarian justification for democracy with much to say about prison reform, religion, poor relief, international law and animal welfare. As a visionary well before his time he also advocated universal suffrage and the decimalization of homosexuality. (Plamentaz, 2013)
At the early age of three Jeremy Bentham was a child prodigy, reading multi volumes on the history of England. The first school he attended was Westminster and from there went on to Queen’s college where he received his degree in 1763. He then studied law at Lincoln’s Inn. At Lincoln’s Inn he spent more time conducting chemical experiments than reading law ...view middle of the document...
It was obvious when looking at his main criticisms of the law that his method was analytical and empirical. Bentham’s moral philosophy clearly reflects his psychological view that the primary motivators of human beings are pleasure and pain. Bentham admits that his version of the principal of utility is something that does not admit of direct proof, but he notes that this is not a problem as some explanatory principles do not admit of any such proof and all explanation must start somewhere. (Who was Jeremy Bentham?, 1999-2014) There has been some debate over the extent to which the rights that Bentham defends are reducible to duties or obligations, whether he can consistently maintain that such duties or obligations are based on the principle of utility, and whether the existence of what Bentham calls “permissive rights”- rights one has where the law is silent- is consistent with his general utilitarian view. (Who was Jeremy Bentham?, 1999-2014)
Even for those who have never read a line of Bentham, he will always be associated with the doctrine of Utilitarianism and the principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. His ideas were to reform public administration and his writings are still debated academically especially as regards to social policy, legal positivism and welfare economics. His works are still being researched at the University College London in the Bentham Project which was set up in the early 1960s with the goal of producing a scholarly edition of his works and correspondence. It is projected it will be a total of seventy volumes.
Plamentaz, J. P. (2013, 10 23). Jeremy Bentham (1748—1832). Retrieved 08 29, 2014, from Encyclopedia Brittanica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/61103/Jeremy-Bentham/8167/Assessment
Sweet, W. (n.d.). Jeremy Bentham (1748—1832). Retrieved 08 30, 14, from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/bentham/
Who was Jeremy Bentham? (1999-2014). Retrieved 08 30, 2014, from UCL Bentham Project: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Bentham-Project/who