Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) was an English philosopher and economist who popularized the concept of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy which states that individual actors (or indeed government) should do whatever maximizes overall "utility" (pleasure minus pain). If killing one innocent man saves ten other lives, then utilitarianism would favor it. Under utilitarianism there is no Christian morality, and it is replaced by comparing benefits versus costs.
Bentham influenced socialist reformer Robert Owen, who agreed with Bentham's idea of "the greatest happiness of the greatest number", and he participated in the rebuttal to the Declaration of Independence, in which he argued that America was hypocritical for proclaiming "all men are equal" while at the same time not freeing every single slave. He was also a major influence on the liberal philosopher and atheist John Stuart Mill, and a friend of his father, James Mill.
Bentham developed the idea of the Panopticon.
- Bentham started from the following premise: "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." Appraisal of Traditional Theories of Ethics from the Viewpoint of the Unification Theory of Ethics
- An Answer to the Declaration of the American Congress, Answer to Article XXVII
- An answer to the Declaration of the American Congress,John Lind and Jeremy Bentham, 1776
- Works by Jeremy Bentham - text and free audio - LibriVox