Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) is regarded the founder of Utilitarianism. After studying law, he began, in his publications, to criticize the law and develop a socio-political philosophy. In the British democracy of his time, political decisions were, often, based on morally sound principles, but produced deplorable conditions, for instance in case of the working class. Bentham turned things around and argued that the result of the laws should be the main criterion to justify them; the benefit they bring to society (the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people, a quote by Joseph Priestley).
The main works of Joseph Bentham include the Introduction to the Principles of Morals (1789), Catechism for Reformers (1809), Constitutional Code (1830. Bentham supported the American and the French Revolution, but at the same time was a close friend of PM William Pitt the Younger. He founded the University College of London (1817), which was to accept students of non-Anglican faith. Bentham promoted universal suffrage (adult manhood universal suffrage, in England, was introduced only in 1918), including the voting right for women, and criticized the laws discriminating against homosexuality. He argued for the abolition of the monarchy, the House of Lords, and for transforming the state church (Anglican Church) into a private organization.
Bentham's concept of Utilitarianism was taken up. and further developed, by John Stuart Mill, who published Utilitarianism in 1863.

Classical Utilitarianism Wensite, at UTexas
The Jeremy Bentham Project, at UCL
Article Utilitarianism, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Articles Rule Utilitarianism, from Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Article Utilitarianism, from Wikipedia
Biography of Jeremy Bentham, from CEPA, from Spartacus Schoolnet
DOCUMENTS John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism, 1863, posted by utilitarianism.com

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on October 2nd 2003, last revised on November 16th 2004

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