Bentham defined as the "fundamental axiom" of his philosophy the principle that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong." He became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism. He advocated for individual and economic freedoms, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. He called for the abolition of slavery, of the death penalty, and of physical punishment, including that of children. He has also become known as an early advocate of animal rights. Though strongly in favour of the extension of individual legal rights, he opposed the idea of natural law and natural rights (both of which are considered "divine" or "God-given" in origin), calling them "nonsense upon stilts". Bentham was also a sharp critic of legal fictions.
Bentham's students included his secretary and collaborator James Mill, the latter's son, John Stuart Mill, the legal philosopher John Austin, as well as Robert Owen, one of the founders of utopian socialism. He "had considerable influence on the reform of prisons, schools, poor laws, law courts, and Parliament itself."
On his death in 1832, Bentham left instructions for his body to be first dissected, and then to be permanently preserved as an "auto-icon" (or self-image), which would be his memorial. This was done, and the auto-icon is now on public display at University College London (UCL). Because of his arguments in favour of the general availability of education, he has been described as the "spiritual founder" of UCL. However, he played only a limited direct part in its foundation.
Portrait by Henry William Pickersgill
|Born||15 February 1748|
|Died||6 June 1832 (aged 84)|
London, England, United Kingdom
|Education||The Queen's College, Oxford (BA 1763; MA 1766)|
|School||Utilitarianism, legal positivism, liberalism|
|Political philosophy, philosophy of law, ethics, economics|
|Greatest happiness principle|
Bentham was born on the 15 February 1748 in Houndsditch, London, to a wealthy family that supported the Tory party. He was reportedly a child prodigy: he was found as a toddler sitting at his father's desk reading a multi-volume history of England, and he began to study Latin at the age of three. He learnt to play the violin and at the age of seven, Bentham would perform sonatas by Handel during dinner parties. He had one surviving sibling, Samuel Bentham, with whom he was close.
He attended Westminster School and, in 1760, at age 12, was sent by his father to The Queen's College, Oxford, where he completed his bachelor's degree in 1763 and his master's degree in 1766. He trained as a lawyer and, though he never practised, was called to the bar in 1769. He became deeply frustrated with the complexity of the English legal code, which he termed the "Demon of Chicane". When the American colonies published their Declaration of Independence in July 1776, the British government did not issue any official response but instead secretly commissioned London lawyer and pamphleteer John Lind to publish a rebuttal. His 130-page tract was distributed in the colonies and contained an essay titled "Short Review of the Declaration" written by Bentham, a friend of Lind, which attacked and mocked the Americans' political philosophy.
In 1786 and 1787, Bentham travelled to Krichev in White Russia (modern Belarus) to visit his brother, Samuel, who was engaged in managing various industrial and other projects for Prince Potemkin. It was Samuel (as Jeremy later repeatedly acknowledged) who conceived the basic idea of a circular building at the hub of a larger compound as a means of allowing a small number of managers to oversee the activities of a large and unskilled workforce.
Bentham began to develop this model, particularly as applicable to prisons, and outlined his ideas in a series of letters sent home to his father in England. He supplemented the supervisory principle with the idea of contract management; that is, an administration by contract as opposed to trust, where the director would have a pecuniary interest in lowering the average rate of mortality. The Panopticon was intended to be cheaper than the prisons of his time, as it required fewer staff; "Allow me to construct a prison on this model," Bentham requested to a Committee for the Reform of Criminal Law, "I will be the gaoler. You will see ... that the gaoler will have no salary—will cost nothing to the nation." As the watchmen cannot be seen, they need not be on duty at all times, effectively leaving the watching to the watched. According to Bentham's design, the prisoners would also be used as menial labour, walking on wheels to spin looms or run a water wheel. This would decrease the cost of the prison and give a possible source of income.
The ultimately abortive proposal for a panopticon prison to be built in England was one among his many proposals for legal and social reform. But Bentham spent some sixteen years of his life developing and refining his ideas for the building and hoped that the government would adopt the plan for a National Penitentiary appointing him as contractor-governor. Although the prison was never built, the concept had an important influence on later generations of thinkers. Twentieth-century French philosopher Michel Foucault argued that the panopticon was paradigmatic of several 19th-century "disciplinary" institutions. Bentham remained bitter throughout his later life about the rejection of the panopticon scheme, convinced that it had been thwarted by the King and an aristocratic elite. It was largely because of his sense of injustice and frustration that he developed his ideas of "sinister interest"—that is, of the vested interests of the powerful conspiring against a wider public interest—which underpinned many of his broader arguments for reform.
On his return to England from Russia, Bentham had commissioned drawings from an architect, Willey Reveley. In 1791, he published the material he had written as a book, although he continued to refine his proposals for many years to come. He had by now decided that he wanted to see the prison built: when finished, it would be managed by himself as contractor-governor, with the assistance of Samuel. After unsuccessful attempts to interest the authorities in Ireland and revolutionary France, he started trying to persuade the prime minister, William Pitt, to revive an earlier abandoned scheme for a National Penitentiary in England, this time to be built as a panopticon. He was eventually successful in winning over Pitt and his advisors, and in 1794 was paid £2,000 for preliminary work on the project.
The intended site was one that had been authorised (under an act of 1779) for the earlier Penitentiary, at Battersea Rise; but the new proposals ran into technical legal problems and objections from the local landowner, Earl Spencer. Other sites were considered, including one at Hanging Wood, near Woolwich, but all proved unsatisfactory. Eventually Bentham turned to a site at Tothill Fields, near Westminster. Although this was common land, with no landowner, there were a number of parties with interests in it, including Earl Grosvenor, who owned a house on an adjacent site and objected to the idea of a prison overlooking it. Again, therefore, the scheme ground to a halt. At this point, however, it became clear that a nearby site at Millbank, adjoining the Thames, was available for sale, and this time things ran more smoothly. Using government money, Bentham bought the land on behalf of the Crown for £12,000 in November 1799.
From his point of view, the site was far from ideal, being marshy, unhealthy, and too small. When he asked the government for more land and more money, however, the response was that he should build only a small-scale experimental prison—which he interpreted as meaning that there was little real commitment to the concept of the panopticon as a cornerstone of penal reform. Negotiations continued, but in 1801 Pitt resigned from office, and in 1803 the new Addington administration decided not to proceed with the project. Bentham was devastated: "They have murdered my best days."
Nevertheless, a few years later the government revived the idea of a National Penitentiary, and in 1811 and 1812 returned specifically to the idea of a panopticon. Bentham, now aged 63, was still willing to be governor. However, as it became clear that there was still no real commitment to the proposal, he abandoned hope, and instead turned his attentions to extracting financial compensation for his years of fruitless effort. His initial claim was for the enormous sum of nearly £700,000, but he eventually settled for the more modest (but still considerable) sum of £23,000. An Act of Parliament in 1812 transferred his title in the site to the Crown.
More successful was his cooperation with Patrick Colquhoun in tackling the corruption in the Pool of London. This resulted in the Thames Police Bill of 1798, which was passed in 1800.[a] The bill created the Thames River Police, which was the first preventive police force in the country and was a precedent for Robert Peel's reforms 30 years later.
Bentham was in correspondence with many influential people. In the 1780s, for example, Bentham maintained a correspondence with the aging Adam Smith, in an unsuccessful attempt to convince Smith that interest rates should be allowed to freely float. As a result of his correspondence with Mirabeau and other leaders of the French Revolution, Bentham was declared an honorary citizen of France. He was an outspoken critic of the revolutionary discourse of natural rights and of the violence that arose after the Jacobins took power (1792). Between 1808 and 1810, he held a personal friendship with Latin American Independence Precursor Francisco de Miranda and paid visits to Miranda's Grafton Way house in London. He also developed links with José Cecilio del Valle.
In 1823, he co-founded The Westminster Review with James Mill as a journal for the "Philosophical Radicals"—a group of younger disciples through whom Bentham exerted considerable influence in British public life. One was John Bowring, to whom Bentham became devoted, describing their relationship as "son and father": he appointed Bowring political editor of The Westminster Review and eventually his literary executor. Another was Edwin Chadwick, who wrote on hygiene, sanitation and policing and was a major contributor to the Poor Law Amendment Act: Bentham employed Chadwick as a secretary and bequeathed him a large legacy.
An insight into his character is given in Michael St. John Packe's The Life of John Stuart Mill:
During his youthful visits to Bowood House, the country seat of his patron Lord Lansdowne, he had passed his time at falling unsuccessfully in love with all the ladies of the house, whom he courted with a clumsy jocularity, while playing chess with them or giving them lessons on the harpsichord. Hopeful to the last, at the age of eighty he wrote again to one of them, recalling to her memory the far-off days when she had "presented him, in ceremony, with the flower in the green lane" [citing Bentham's memoirs]. To the end of his life he could not hear of Bowood without tears swimming in his eyes, and he was forced to exclaim, "Take me forward, I entreat you, to the future—do not let me go back to the past."
A psychobiographical study by Philip Lucas and Anne Sheeran argues that he may have had Asperger's syndrome. Bentham was an atheist. González 2012, p. 81 writes, "In sum, with Hume's agnosticism and Bentham's atheism, the fundamental voluntarist thesis about the gulf between the divine and the human mind reaches new depths, and this serves to reinforce and radicalise the rejection, begun by Pufendorf, of Grotian rights-theory as the appropriate means of formulating the conventionalist theory of the moral life." And Crimmins 1990, p. 283 notes, "Making allowance for Adams's cautious phrasing, this is a concise statement of Bentham's secular positivism, but it is also important to note the conviction with which Bentham held his atheism."
Bentham died on 6 June 1832 aged 84 at his residence in Queen Square Place in Westminster, London, England. He had continued to write up to a month before his death, and had made careful preparations for the dissection of his body after death and its preservation as an auto-icon. As early as 1769, when Bentham was 21 years old, he made a will leaving his body for dissection to a family friend, the physician and chemist George Fordyce, whose daughter, Maria Sophia (1765–1858), married Jeremy's brother Samuel Bentham. A paper written in 1830, instructing Thomas Southwood Smith to create the auto-icon, was attached to his last will, dated 30 May 1832.
On 8 June 1832, two days after his death, invitations were distributed to a select group of friends, and on the following day at 3 p.m., Southwood Smith delivered a lengthy oration over Bentham's remains in the Webb Street School of Anatomy & Medicine in Southwark, London. The printed oration contains a frontispiece with an engraving of Bentham's body partly covered by a sheet.
Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the "Auto-icon", with the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham's clothes. Originally kept by his disciple Thomas Southwood Smith, it was acquired by University College London in 1850. It is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college; however, for the retirement of Sir Malcolm Grant, it was brought to attend his final council meeting. This was the only time that the body has been taken to a UCL council meeting; there is a persistent myth that he is taken to all meetings. Bentham's body was only taken to that one meeting because of the persistent myth about Bentham's attendance, and the curator at the time, Nick Booth, thought it would be a good idea for Bentham to attend once. This will never happen again, as there is a risk that the beetles in the carpet could contaminate the body and slowly consume it.
Bentham had intended the Auto-icon to incorporate his actual head, mummified to resemble its appearance in life. Southwood Smith's experimental efforts at mummification, based on practices of the indigenous people of New Zealand and involving placing the head under an air pump over sulfuric acid and drawing off the fluids, although technically successful, left the head looking distastefully macabre, with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull. The auto-icon was therefore given a wax head, fitted with some of Bentham's own hair. The real head was displayed in the same case as the auto-icon for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks. It is now locked away securely.
In 2018, Jeremy Bentham's auto-icon was on display in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Breuer location.
Bentham's ambition in life was to create a "Pannomion", a complete utilitarian code of law. He not only proposed many legal and social reforms, but also expounded an underlying moral principle on which they should be based. This philosophy of utilitarianism took for its "fundamental axiom", it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong". Bentham claimed to have borrowed this concept from the writings of Joseph Priestley, although the closest that Priestley in fact came to expressing it was in the form "the good and happiness of the members, that is the majority of the members of any state, is the great standard by which every thing relating to that state must finally be determined".
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 a determined opponent of religion. Crimmins observes: "Between 1809 and 1823 Jeremy Bentham carried out an exhaustive examination of religion with the declared aim of extirpating religious beliefs, even the idea of religion itself, from the minds of men."
Bentham suggested a procedure for estimating the moral status of any action, which he called the Hedonistic or felicific calculus. Utilitarianism was revised and expanded by Bentham's student John Stuart Mill. Mill sharply criticized Bentham's view of human nature, which failed to recognize conscience as a human motive. Mill considered Bentham's view "to have done and to be doing very serious evil." In Mill's hands, "Benthamism" became a major element in the liberal conception of state policy objectives.
Bentham's critics have claimed that he undermined the foundation of a free society by rejecting natural rights. Historian Gertrude Himmelfarb wrote "The principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number was as inimical to the idea of liberty as to the idea of rights."
In his exposition of the felicific calculus, Bentham proposed a classification of 12 pains and 14 pleasures, by which we might test the "happiness factor" of any action. Nonetheless, it should not be overlooked that Bentham's "hedonistic" theory (a term from J. J. C. Smart), unlike Mill's, is often criticised for lacking a principle of fairness embodied in a conception of justice. In Bentham and the Common Law Tradition, Gerald J. Postema states: "No moral concept suffers more at Bentham's hand than the concept of justice. There is no sustained, mature analysis of the notion..." Thus, some critics object, it would be acceptable to torture one person if this would produce an amount of happiness in other people outweighing the unhappiness of the tortured individual. However, as P. J. Kelly argued in Utilitarianism and Distributive Justice: Jeremy Bentham and the Civil Law, Bentham had a theory of justice that prevented such consequences. According to Kelly, for Bentham the law "provides the basic framework of social interaction by delimiting spheres of personal inviolability within which individuals can form and pursue their own conceptions of well-being". It provides security, a precondition for the formation of expectations. As the hedonic calculus shows "expectation utilities" to be much higher than natural ones, it follows that Bentham does not favour the sacrifice of a few to the benefit of the many. Law professor Alan Dershowitz has quoted Bentham to argue that torture should sometimes be permitted.
Bentham's An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation focuses on the principle of utility and how this view of morality ties into legislative practices. His principle of utility regards "good" as that which produces the greatest amount of pleasure and the minimum amount of pain and "evil" as that which produces the most pain without the pleasure. This concept of pleasure and pain is defined by Bentham as physical as well as spiritual. Bentham writes about this principle as it manifests itself within the legislation of a society. He lays down a set of criteria for measuring the extent of pain or pleasure that a certain decision will create.
The criteria are divided into the categories of intensity, duration, certainty, proximity, productiveness, purity, and extent. Using these measurements, he reviews the concept of punishment and when it should be used as far as whether a punishment will create more pleasure or more pain for a society. He calls for legislators to determine whether punishment creates an even more evil offence. Instead of suppressing the evil acts, Bentham argues that certain unnecessary laws and punishments could ultimately lead to new and more dangerous vices than those being punished to begin with, and calls upon legislators to measure the pleasures and pains associated with any legislation and to form laws in order to create the greatest good for the greatest number. He argues that the concept of the individual pursuing his or her own happiness cannot be necessarily declared "right", because often these individual pursuits can lead to greater pain and less pleasure for a society as a whole. Therefore, the legislation of a society is vital to maintain the maximum pleasure and the minimum degree of pain for the greatest number of people.
Bentham's opinions about monetary economics were completely different from those of David Ricardo; however, they had some similarities to those of Henry Thornton. He focused on monetary expansion as a means of helping to create full employment. He was also aware of the relevance of forced saving, propensity to consume, the saving-investment relationship, and other matters that form the content of modern income and employment analysis. His monetary view was close to the fundamental concepts employed in his model of utilitarian decision making. His work is considered to be an early precursor of modern welfare economics.
Bentham stated that pleasures and pains can be ranked according to their value or "dimension" such as intensity, duration, certainty of a pleasure or a pain. He was concerned with maxima and minima of pleasures and pains; and they set a precedent for the future employment of the maximisation principle in the economics of the consumer, the firm and the search for an optimum in welfare economics.
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. He lobbied hard for the formation of codification commissions in both England and the United States, and went so far as to write to President James Madison in 1811 to volunteer to write a complete legal code for the young country. After he learned more about American law and realised that most of it was state-based, he promptly wrote to the governors of every single state with the same offer.
During his lifetime, Bentham's codification efforts were completely unsuccessful. Even today, they have been completely rejected by almost every common law jurisdiction, including England. However, his writings on the subject laid the foundation for the moderately successful codification work of David Dudley Field II in the United States a generation later.
Bentham is widely regarded as one of the earliest proponents of animal rights. He argued and believed that the ability to suffer, not the ability to reason, should be the benchmark, or what he called the "insuperable line". If reason alone were the criterion by which we judge who ought to have rights, human infants and adults with certain forms of disability might fall short, too. In 1789, alluding to the limited degree of legal protection afforded to slaves in the French West Indies by the Code Noir, he wrote:
The day has been, I am sad to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing, as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognised that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog, is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
Earlier in that paragraph, Bentham makes clear that he accepted that animals could be killed for food, or in defence of human life, provided that the animal was not made to suffer unnecessarily. Bentham did not object to medical experiments on animals, providing that the experiments had in mind a particular goal of benefit to humanity, and had a reasonable chance of achieving that goal. He wrote that otherwise he had a "decided and insuperable objection" to causing pain to animals, in part because of the harmful effects such practices might have on human beings. In a letter to the editor of the Morning Chronicle in March 1825, he wrote:
I never have seen, nor ever can see, any objection to the putting of dogs and other inferior animals to pain, in the way of medical experiment, when that experiment has a determinate object, beneficial to mankind, accompanied with a fair prospect of the accomplishment of it. But I have a decided and insuperable objection to the putting of them to pain without any such view. To my apprehension, every act by which, without prospect of preponderant good, pain is knowingly and willingly produced in any being whatsoever, is an act of cruelty; and, like other bad habits, the more the correspondent habit is indulged in, the stronger it grows, and the more frequently productive of its bad fruit. I am unable to comprehend how it should be, that to him to whom it is a matter of amusement to see a dog or a horse suffer, it should not be matter of like amusement to see a man suffer; seeing, as I do, how much more morality as well as intelligence, an adult quadruped of those and many other species has in him, than any biped has for some months after he has been brought into existence; nor does it appear to me how it should be, that a person to whom the production of pain, either in the one or in the other instance, is a source of amusement, would scruple to give himself that amusement when he could do so under an assurance of impunity.
Bentham said that it was the placing of women in a legally inferior position that made him choose, at the age of eleven, the career of a reformist. Bentham spoke for a complete equality between sexes. Bentham nevertheless thought women inferior to men regarding such qualities as "strength of intellectual powers" and "firmness of mind".
The essay Offences Against One's Self, argued for the liberalisation of laws prohibiting homosexual sex. The essay remained unpublished during his lifetime for fear of offending public morality. It was published for the first time in 1931. Bentham does not believe homosexual acts to be unnatural, describing them merely as "irregularities of the venereal appetite". The essay chastises the society of the time for making a disproportionate response to what Bentham appears to consider a largely private offence—public displays or forced acts being dealt with rightly by other laws. When the essay was published in the Journal of Homosexuality in 1978, the "Abstract" stated that Bentham's essay was the "first known argument for homosexual law reform in England".
For Bentham, transparency had moral value. For example, journalism puts power-holders under moral scrutiny. However, Bentham wanted such transparency to apply to everyone. This he describes by picturing the world as a gymnasium in which each "gesture, every turn of limb or feature, in those whose motions have a visible impact on the general happiness, will be noticed and marked down". He considered both surveillance and transparency to be useful ways of generating understanding and improvements for people's lives.
Bentham distinguished among fictional entities what he called "fabulous entities" like Prince Hamlet or a centaur, from what he termed "fictitious entities", or necessary objects of discourse, similar to Kant's categories, such as nature, custom, or the social contract.
Bentham is widely associated with the foundation in 1826 of London University (the institution that, in 1836, became University College London), though he was 78 years old when the University opened and played only an indirect role in its establishment. His direct involvement was limited to his buying a single £100 share in the new University, making him just one of over a thousand shareholders.
Bentham and his ideas can nonetheless be seen as having inspired several of the actual founders of the University. He strongly believed that education should be more widely available, particularly to those who were not wealthy or who did not belong to the established church; in Bentham's time, membership of the Church of England and the capacity to bear considerable expenses were required of students entering the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. As the University of London was the first in England to admit all, regardless of race, creed or political belief, it was largely consistent with Bentham's vision. There is some evidence that, from the sidelines, he played a "more than passive part" in the planning discussions for the new institution, although it is also apparent that "his interest was greater than his influence". He failed in his efforts to see his disciple John Bowring appointed professor of English or History, but he did oversee the appointment of another pupil, John Austin, as the first professor of Jurisprudence in 1829.
The more direct associations between Bentham and UCL—the College's custody of his Auto-icon (see above) and of the majority of his surviving papers—postdate his death by some years: the papers were donated in 1849, and the Auto-icon in 1850. A large painting by Henry Tonks hanging in UCL's Flaxman Gallery depicts Bentham approving the plans of the new university, but it was executed in 1922 and the scene is entirely imaginary. Since 1959 (when the Bentham Committee was first established) UCL has hosted the Bentham Project, which is progressively publishing a definitive edition of Bentham's writings.
UCL now endeavours to acknowledge Bentham's influence on its foundation, while avoiding any suggestion of direct involvement, by describing him as its "spiritual founder".
Bentham was an obsessive writer and reviser, but was constitutionally incapable, except on rare occasions, of bringing his work to completion and publication. Most of what appeared in print in his lifetime (see list of published works online) was prepared for publication by others. Several of his works first appeared in French translation, prepared for the press by Étienne Dumont, for example, Theory of Legislation, Volume 2 (Principles of the Penal Code) 1840, Weeks, Jordan, & Company. Boston. Some made their first appearance in English in the 1820s as a result of back-translation from Dumont's 1802 collection (and redaction) of Bentham's writing on civil and penal legislation.
On his death, Bentham left manuscripts amounting to an estimated 30 million words, which are now largely held by UCL's Special Collections (c. 60,000 manuscript folios) and the British Library (c.15,000 folios).
John Bowring, the young radical writer who had been Bentham's intimate friend and disciple, was appointed his literary executor and charged with the task of preparing a collected edition of his works. This appeared in 11 volumes in 1838–1843. Bowring based much of his edition on previously published texts (including those of Dumont) rather than Bentham's own manuscripts, and elected not to publish Bentham's works on religion at all. The edition was described by the Edinburgh Review on first publication as "incomplete, incorrect and ill-arranged", and has since been repeatedly criticised both for its omissions and for errors of detail; while Bowring's memoir of Bentham's life included in volumes 10 and 11 was described by Sir Leslie Stephen as "one of the worst biographies in the language". Nevertheless, Bowring's remained the standard edition of most of Bentham's writings for over a century, and is still only partially superseded: it includes such interesting writings on international[b] relations as Bentham's A Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace written 1786–89, which forms part IV of the Principles of International Law.
In 1952–1954, Werner Stark published a three-volume set, Jeremy Bentham's Economic Writings, in which he attempted to bring together all of Bentham's writings on economic matters, including both published and unpublished material. Although a significant achievement, the work is considered by scholars to be flawed in many points of detail, and a new edition of the economic writings is currently in preparation by the Bentham Project.
In 1959, the Bentham Committee was established under the auspices of University College London with the aim of producing a definitive edition of Bentham's writings. It set up the Bentham Project to undertake the task, and the first volume in The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham was published in 1968. The Collected Works are providing many unpublished works, as well as much-improved texts of works already published. To date, 31 volumes have appeared; the complete edition is projected to run to around seventy. The volume Of Laws in General (1970) was found to contain many errors and has been replaced by Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence (2010) In June 2017, Volumes 1–5 were re-published in open access by UCL Press.
To assist in this task, the Bentham papers at UCL are being digitised by crowdsourcing their transcription. Transcribe Bentham is an award-winning crowdsourced manuscript transcription project, run by University College London's Bentham Project, in partnership with UCL's UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, UCL Library Services, UCL Learning and Media Services, the University of London Computer Centre, and the online community. The project was launched in September 2010 and is making freely available, via a specially designed transcription interface, digital images of UCL's vast Bentham Papers collection—which runs to some 60,000 manuscript folios—to engage the public and recruit volunteers to help transcribe the material. Volunteer-produced transcripts will contribute to the Bentham Project's production of the new edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham, and will be uploaded to UCL's digital Bentham Papers repository, widening access to the collection for all and ensuring its long-term preservation. Manuscripts can be viewed and transcribed by signing-up for a transcriber account at the Transcription Desk, via the Transcribe Bentham website.
Bentham's name was adopted by the Australian litigation funder IMF Limited to become Bentham IMF Limited on 28 November 2013, in recognition of Bentham being "among the first to support the utility of litigation funding".
In Guatemala there was Valle, a man of vast intellect, friend of Jeremías Bentham, with whom he corresponded frequently. Bentham sent him shortly before dying a lock of his hair and a golden ring, shiny as José Cecilio's style.
We can safely assume that [Guatemalan philosopher and politician] José del Valle received one, as he is featured wearing it in a portrait," Causer said. "Interestingly, on the bookshelf of that portrait is one of Bentham’s works, as well as a Spanish translation of Say’s 'Traité d’économie politique.' It’s a neat, tangible link between Bentham, Say and del Valle.
It seems that the case with Bentham's body now rested in New Broad Street; Southwood Smith did not remove to 38 Finsbury Square until several years later. Bentham must have been seen by many visitors, including Charles Dickens.
Act utilitarianism is a utilitarian theory of ethics which states that a person's act is morally right if and only if it produces the best possible results in that specific situation. Classical utilitarians, including Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Sidgwick, define happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain.An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation is a book by the English philosopher and legal theorist Jeremy Bentham "originally printed in 1780, and first published in 1789." Bentham's "most important theoretical work," it is where Bentham develops his theory of utilitarianism and is the first major book on the topic.British philosophy
British philosophy refers to the philosophical tradition of the British people. "The native characteristics of British philosophy are these: common sense, dislike of complication, a strong preference for the concrete over the abstract and a certain awkward honesty of method in which an occasional pearl of poetry is embedded".Deontological ethics
In moral philosophy, deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek δέον, deon, "obligation, duty")
is the normative ethical theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action.It is sometimes described as duty-, obligation- or rule-based ethics, because rules "bind one to one's duty". Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted to consequentialism, virtue ethics, and pragmatic ethics. In this terminology, action is more important than the consequences.
It is an ethical framework that depends on the predefined sets of rules and policies for the proper functioning of a system in the environment. The deontology is simply based on the checklist which includes certain rules to be followed while performing a particular task. According to this framework, the work is considered virtuous only if this checklist is completed.
This procedure is very simple to implement and understand. Minimum time is consumed to decide between right and wrong. However, its simplicity ignores the consequences of the decision taken under this approach.
The term deontological was first used to describe the current, specialised definition by C. D. Broad in his 1930 book, Five Types of Ethical Theory Older usage of the term goes back to Jeremy Bentham, who coined it before 1816 as a synonym of Dicastic or Censorial Ethics (i.e. ethics based on judgement).
The more general sense of the word is retained in French, especially in the term code de déontologie (ethical code), in the context of professional ethics.
Depending on the system of deontological ethics under consideration, a moral obligation may arise from an external or internal source, such as a set of rules inherent to the universe (ethical naturalism), religious law, or a set of personal or cultural values (any of which may be in conflict with personal desires).Felicific calculus
The felicific calculus is an algorithm formulated by utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) for calculating the degree or amount of pleasure that a specific action is likely to cause. Bentham, an ethical hedonist, believed the moral rightness or wrongness of an action to be a function of the amount of pleasure or pain that it produced. The felicific calculus could, in principle at least, determine the moral status of any considered act. The algorithm is also known as the utility calculus, the hedonistic calculus and the hedonic calculus.
To be included in this calculation are several variables (or vectors), which Bentham called "circumstances". These are:
Intensity: How strong is the pleasure?
Duration: How long will the pleasure last?
Certainty or uncertainty: How likely or unlikely is it that the pleasure will occur?
Propinquity or remoteness: How soon will the pleasure occur?
Fecundity: The probability that the action will be followed by sensations of the same kind.
Purity: The probability that it will not be followed by sensations of the opposite kind.
Extent: How many people will be affected?John Locke (Lost)
John Locke is a fictional character played by Terry O'Quinn on the ABC television series Lost. He is named after the English philosopher of the same name. In 2007, O'Quinn won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Locke.Locke is introduced in the first season as a mysterious, intellectual and stoic character with an affinity for living out in the wild, a penchant for hunting and tracking. He believes in mystical and spiritual explanations for why things happen on the island due to a self-described "miracle" happening to him after the crash of Oceanic 815. His stoicism and mystical outlook dominate his character and are the basis for many of his relationships and interactions on the show.List of people granted honorary French citizenship during the French Revolution
In French honorary citizenship is awarded by cities, towns and sometimes federal states.
During the French Revolution, France granted honorary French citizenship to those deemed champions of the cause. However, not all were sympathizers with the Revolution. One (Cloots) died on the guillotine.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Johann Heinrich Campe
Cornelius de Pauw
Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
David WilliamsLondon Philhellenic Committee
The London Philhellenic Committee (1823–1826) was a Philhellenic group established to support the Greek War of Independence from Ottoman rule by raising funds by subscription for military supplies to Greece and by raising a major loan to stabilize the fledgling Greek government. Its first meeting was held on 28 February 1823 in the Crown and Anchor Tavern on the Strand. The committee was established by John Bowring and Edward Blaquiere. Its early members included the reformer Jeremy Bentham and Lord Byron. There were two causes that prompted the formation of the committee. Viscount Castlereagh died in 1822 and was replaced by George Canning as Foreign Secretary; and Byron was recruited to the cause.Neo-classical school (criminology)
In criminology, the Neo-Classical School continues the traditions of the Classical School within the framework of Right Realism. Hence, the utilitarianism of Jeremy Bentham and Cesare Beccaria remains a relevant social philosophy in policy term for using punishment as a deterrent through law enforcement, the courts, and imprisonment.Panopticism
Panopticism is a social theory named after the Panopticon, originally developed by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his 1975 book Discipline and Punish. The "panopticon" refers to an experimental laboratory of power in which behaviour could be modified, and Foucault viewed the panopticon as a symbol of the disciplinary society of surveillance.Panopticon
The panopticon is a type of institutional building and a system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century. The scheme of the design is to allow all (pan-) inmates of an institution to be observed (-opticon) by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman to observe all the inmates' cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means that they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times. Thus, they are effectively compelled to regulate their own behaviour.
The design consists of a circular structure with an "inspection house" at its centre, from which the manager or staff of the institution is able to watch the inmates. The inmates, who are stationed around the perimeter of the structure, are unable to see into the inspection house. Bentham conceived the basic plan as being equally applicable to hospitals, schools, sanatoriums, and asylums, but he devoted most of his efforts to developing a design for a panopticon prison. It is his prison that is now most widely meant by the term "panopticon".
Bentham described the panopticon as "a new mode of obtaining power of mind over mind, in a quantity hitherto without example". Elsewhere, in a letter, he described the panopticon prison as "a mill for grinding rogues honest".Prometheus Books
Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by the philosopher Paul Kurtz (who was also the founder of the Council for Secular Humanism, Center for Inquiry, and co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). Prometheus Books publishes a range of books, focusing on topics such as science, freethought, secularism, humanism, and skepticism. Their headquarters is located in Amherst, New York, and they publish worldwide. The publisher's name was derived from Prometheus, the Titan from Greek mythology who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man. This act is often used as a metaphor for bringing knowledge or enlightenment.
Authors published by Prometheus include Steve Allen, Molefi Asante, Isaac Asimov, Jeremy Bentham, Rob Boston, Ludwig Feuerbach, Antony Flew, R. Barri Flowers, Martin Gardner, Guy P. Harrison, Sidney Hook, Julian Huxley, S. T. Joshi, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, John Maynard Keynes, Philip J. Klass, Leon Lederman, John W. Loftus, Joe Nickell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Mario Perniola, Robert M. Price, James Randi, David Ricardo, Nathan Salmon, George H. Smith, John Steinbeck IV, Victor Stenger, Tom Toles and Ibn Warraq.
Prometheus Books obtained the bulk of the books and manuscripts of Humanities Press International. It has been building and expanding this into a scholarly imprint named Humanity Books. This imprint publishes academic works across a wide spectrum of the humanities.
In 1992 Uri Geller sued Victor J. Stenger and Prometheus Books for libel. The suit was dismissed and Geller was required to pay more than $20,000 in costs to the defendant.In March 2005, Prometheus Books launched the science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr. In October 2012 it launched the crime fiction imprint Seventh Street Books.
As of 2006, the company and its various imprints have approximately 1,600 books in print and publish approximately 95–100 books per year. Since its founding, Prometheus Books has published more than 2,500 books.
In 2013 Prometheus Books partnered with Random House in an effort to increase sales and distribution.Samuel Bentham
Sir Samuel Bentham (11 January 1757 – 31 May 1831) was a noted English mechanical engineer and naval architect credited with numerous innovations, particularly related to naval architecture, including weapons. He was the only surviving sibling of philosopher Jeremy Bentham, with whom he had a close bond.The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham
The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham is a series of volumes which, when complete, will form a definitive edition of the writings of the philosopher and reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832). It includes texts which Bentham published (or which were published in his name) during his lifetime; and also the many texts which remained unpublished at his death, and which exist only in manuscript.The Globe (London newspaper)
The Globe was a British newspaper which ran from 1803 to 1921. It was founded by Christopher Blackett, the coal mining entrepreneur from Wylam Northumberland who commissioned the first commercially useful adhesion steam locomotives in the world. It merged with the Pall Mall Gazette in 1921. Under the ownership of Robert Torrens during the 1820s it supported radical politics, and had a reputation associating it closely with Jeremy Bentham. By the 1840s it was more mainstream, and received briefings from within the Whig administration. In 1871 it was owned by a Tory group headed by George Cubitt, who brought in George Armstrong as editor. It was controlled shortly before World War I by Max Aitken.The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham
"The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" is the seventh television episode of the fifth season of ABC's Lost. The 93rd episode of the show overall, it aired on February 25, 2009, on ABC in the United States, being simulcast on A in Canada. The episode was written by showrunners and executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and directed by Jack Bender.John Locke, after stopping the time shifts and being transported to 2007 in the Tunisian Desert, starts his journey as Jeremy Bentham. At the crash site of the Ajira Airways Flight 316, the passengers try to find the identity of an unidentified man.The Westminster Review
The Westminster Review was a quarterly British publication. Established in 1823 as the official organ of the Philosophical Radicals, it was published from 1824 to 1914. James Mill was one of the driving forces behind the liberal journal until 1828.Transcribe Bentham
Transcribe Bentham is a crowdsourced manuscript transcription project, run by University College London's Bentham Project, in partnership with UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, UCL Library Services, UCL Learning and Media Services, the University of London Computer Centre, and the online community. Transcribe Bentham was launched under a twelve-month Arts and Humanities Research Council grant.
For two years from October 2012, the project was funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's 'Scholarly Communications' programme, and the project consortium has been expanded to include the British Library.Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a family of consequentialist ethical theories that promotes actions that maximize happiness and well-being for the majority of a population. Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different characterizations, the basic idea behind all of them is to in some sense maximize utility, which is often defined in terms of well-being or related concepts. For instance, Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as
that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness...[or] to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered.Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as egoism and altruism, utilitarianism considers the interests of all beings equally.
Proponents of utilitarianism have disagreed on a number of points, such as whether actions should be chosen based on their likely results (act utilitarianism) or whether agents should conform to rules that maximize utility (rule utilitarianism). There is also disagreement as to whether total (total utilitarianism), average (average utilitarianism) or minimum utility should be maximized.
Though the seeds of the theory can be found in the hedonists Aristippus and Epicurus, who viewed happiness as the only good, the tradition of utilitarianism properly began with Bentham, and has included John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, R. M. Hare, David Braybrooke, and Peter Singer. It has been applied to social welfare economics, the crisis of global poverty, the ethics of raising animals for food and the importance of avoiding existential risks to humanity.
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