<history of philosophy, biography> english philosopher and political radical (1748-1832). In A Fragment on Government (1776) and An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) Bentham outlined an ethical system based on a purely hedonistic calculation of the utility particular actions with a view to the greatest happiness of all, a view later to be defended in modified form by Mill and others. Bentham supposed that consistent application of this principle in social and political life would resolve many difficulties in human conduct, using proportional but perfectly certain punishment to render unacceptably painful to the prospective criminal any behavior that would otherwise be likely to cause injury to others. Bentham's unusual bequest still remains at University College, London. Recommended Reading: The Works of Jeremy Bentham, ed. by John Bowring (Thoemmes, 1997); Ross Harrison, Bentham (Routledge, 1999); Essays on Bentham, ed. by H. L. A. Hart (Oxford, 1983); and Gerald J. Postema, Jeremy Bentham: Moral, Political, and Legal Philosophy (Ashgate, 2001).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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