Moreover, Bentham contended against the opponents of the principle of utility that every moral argument must implicitly draw from the idea of maximizing happiness....
He states that “As to ethics in general, a man’s happiness will depend, in the first place, upon such parts of his behavior as none but himself are interested in ; in the next place, upon such parts of it as may affect the happiness of those about him” (Bentham pg.
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Numerous commentaries on Bentham’s philosophy have alsoappeared, from the early general accounts of Leslie Stephen (1900) andElie Halévy (1901–4), to more recent introductions to hisideas (Harrison 1983; Dinwiddy 1989b; Crimmins 2004; Schofield 2009)and a wide range of revisionist disquisitions on discrete aspects ofhis thought. In addition to the themes and issues already addressed inthis article, Hart (1982) and Postema (1989) have penned importantstudies of Bentham’s jurisprudence, while topics that haveengaged contemporary commentators include his critical views on raceand slavery (Jones 2005; Rosen 2005), colonialism and empire (Pitts2005; Cain 2011), marriage, divorce, adultery, desertion andwife-beating (Sokol 2011), and sexual liberty (Dabhoiwala 2010,168–74; Schofield 2014). Schofield (2013) provides an overviewof some new directions in Bentham studies, including in the arts andliterary studies. Many of these commentaries have been inspired by thepublication of the authoritative volumes in The Collected Works ofJeremy Bentham that began appearing in 1968 to replace the poorlyedited and incomplete Bowring edition (1838–43). TheCollected Works continues to bring to light new and morecomplete versions of Bentham’s writings and previouslyunpublished material. At the time of writing, 30 of the projected 70volumes have been published. As new volumes appear the topics ofdiscussion and debate will continue to increase, burnishing thereputation of a philosopher whose ideas remain relevant in a greatnumber of areas of interest to moralists, psychologists, economists,historians, legal and political philosophers.
Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher and political radical
Bentham’s position on female suffrage at this time was nuanced(Boralevi 1984, Ch.2): he objected to the exclusion of women from thevote in James Mill’s 1820 essay “On Government” (UCxxxiv, 303), an exclusion he had long ago condemned as founded onnothing but prejudice (2002, 247; 1838–43, III, 463),Nevertheless, in public he argued that women were to be excluded untilsuch time as universal male suffrage had been achieved (1838–43,IX, 108).
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Jeremy Bentham, jurist and political reformer, is the philosopherwhose name is most closely associated with the foundational era of themodern utilitarian tradition. Earlier moralists had enunciated severalof the core ideas and characteristic terminology of utilitarianphilosophy, most notably John Gay, Francis Hutcheson, David Hume,Claude-Adrien Helvétius and Cesare Beccaria, but it was Benthamwho rendered the theory in its recognisably secular and systematicform and made it a critical tool of moral and legal philosophy andpolitical and social improvement. In 1776, he first announced himselfto the world as a proponent of utility as the guiding principle ofconduct and law inA Fragment on Government. In An Introduction to thePrinciples of Morals and Legislation (printed 1780, published1789), as a preliminary to developing a theory of penal law hedetailed the basic elements of classical utilitarian theory. The penalcode was to be the first in a collection of codes that wouldconstitute the utilitarian pannomion, a complete body of lawbased on the utility principle, the development of which was to engageBentham in a lifetime’s work and was to include civil,procedural, and constitutional law. As a by-product, and in theinterstices between the sub-codes of this vast legislative edifice,Bentham’s writings ranged across ethics, ontology, logic,political economy, judicial administration, poor law, prison reform,international law, education, religious beliefs and institutions,democratic theory, government, and administration. In all these areashe made major contributions that continue to feature in discussions ofutilitarianism, notably its moral, legal, economic and politicalforms. Upon this rests Bentham’s reputation as one of the greatthinkers in modern philosophy.