Jeremy Bentham

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Jeremy Bentham was born in London in 1748. The son of a lawyer and a scholar, Bentham attended Queen's College, Oxford at the age of twelve and went on to Lincoln's Inn at the age of fifteen. Bentham did not enjoy making public speeches and therefore left Lincoln Inn to concentrate on his writing. His father gave Bentham £90 annually from which Bentham was able to produced a series of books on philosophy, economics and politics.

Bentham's family was very conservative and for the first part of his life, Bentham shared their political views. After reading the works of Joseph Priestley and David Hume, Bentham's views changed. In 1798, Bentham wrote “Principles of International Law.” He argued that universal peace could only be accomplished by attaining European Unity. He believed that a form of European government would be able to apply ideas such as the liberty of the press, and free trade.

In “Catechism of Reformers”, a literary work published in 1809, Bentham pointed out that the law of libel was so ambiguous that judges and officials were able to use it for self-interests instead of the best interest of the case. Bentham also said that officials could use the law to punish anyone for speaking against or the "hurting the feelings" of the ruling class.

Bentham's most specific aspects of his ideas and objectives on political democracy were published in his book “Constitutional Code” in 1830. Bentham debated that political reform should be governed by the principle to benefit the happiness of the people affected by it. Bentham was in favor of universal suffrage, annual parliaments and vote by elections. According to Bentham there should be no monarchy, House of Lords, or established church. The book also contained Bentham's view that women, as well as men, should be given the vote. Bentham also wrote about how government should be organized. He proposed regulations that would ensure the attendance of members of the House of Commons. Government officials...
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