Jeremy Bentham was an English philosopher and political radical. He is highly known and respected today for his moral philosophy, primarily his principle of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism evaluates actions based upon their consequences. Bentham is most famously known for his pursuit of motivation and value. Bentham was a strong believer in individual and economic freedom, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce and the decriminalizing of homosexual acts. During his time he helped with the abolition of slavery, the abolition of the death penalty and the abolition of physical punishment, including children. Bentham was born in Houndsditch, London in 1748 to a very wealthy family who supported the Tory party. He was very intelligent and bright minded. When he was a toddler he was found behind his father’s desk reading the history of England and at age three he began studying Latin. He obtained his masters degree from Oxford College in 1766, where there after he trained as a lawyer but never practiced. Instead, Bentham decided to write about the law. One of Bentham’s major influences was Joseph Priestley. Bentham read Priestley’s work and had quickly changed his mind about the conservative political views that he had grown up in. One statement in particular from The First Principles of Government and the Nature of Political, Civil and Religious Liberty had a major impact on Bentham; “The good and happiness of the members, that is the majority of the members of the state, is the great standard by which every thing relating to that state must finally be determined.” Bentham was also heavily influenced by the philosopher David Hume. In 1798 Bentham wrote Principles of International Law where he argued that universal peace could only be obtained by first achieving European Unity. He hoped that some for of European Parliament would be able to...
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