Test Your Knowledge of Jeremy Bentham



9 Questions

What was Bentham's most famous proposal?

What is Bentham's principle of utility?

What did Bentham advocate for regarding women's rights?

What did Bentham consider to be useful ways of generating understanding and improvements for people's lives?

What did Bentham believe about animal rights?

What did Bentham propose in his exposition of the felicific calculus?

What was Bentham's opinion on imperialism?

What was Bentham's opinion on natural law and natural rights?

What did Bentham believe about religion?


Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, jurist, and social reformer, is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism. He believed in the principle that "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong." Bentham advocated for individual and economic freedoms, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. He also called for the abolition of slavery, capital punishment, and physical punishment. Bentham was a sharp critic of legal fictions and opposed the idea of natural law and natural rights. Bentham's ideas influenced the development of welfarism and he had considerable influence on the reform of prisons, schools, poor laws, law courts, and Parliament itself. Bentham's auto-icon (or self-image) is now on public display in the entrance of the Student Centre at University College London (UCL). Bentham was reportedly a child prodigy and attended Westminster School. He completed his bachelor's degree at The Queen's College, Oxford and trained as a lawyer but never practised. Bentham became deeply frustrated with the complexity of English law, which he termed the "Demon of Chicane." Bentham's most famous proposal was for a panopticon prison to be built in England. The ultimately abortive proposal for a panopticon prison was one among his many proposals for legal and social reform. Bentham was in correspondence with many influential people including Adam Smith, and was declared an honorary citizen of France. Bentham co-founded The Westminster Review with James Mill as a journal for the "Philosophical Radicals." Bentham had several infatuations with women, and wrote on sex. He never married. Bentham's daily pattern was to rise at 6 am, walk for 2 hours or more, and then work until 4 pm. Bentham's name was adopted by the Australian litigation funder IMF Limited to become Bentham IMF Limited on 28 November 2013. Bentham's philosophy of utilitarianism took for its "fundamental axiom" to be the notion that it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong. Bentham was a rare major figure in the history of philosophy to endorse psychological egoism and was also a determined opponent of religion. Bentham suggested a procedure for estimating the moral status.Summary of Jeremy Bentham's Life and Ideas

  • Bentham's philosophy is centered around the principle of utility, or greatest happiness principle, which states that good is what produces the greatest amount of pleasure and the least amount of pain.

  • He believed that the legislation of a society is vital to maintain the maximum pleasure and the minimum degree of pain for the greatest number of people.

  • Bentham proposed a classification of 12 pains and 14 pleasures, by which we might test the "happiness factor" of any action, in his exposition of the felicific calculus.

  • Bentham advocated for the codification of all of the common law into a coherent set of statutes, but his efforts were unsuccessful.

  • He is widely regarded as one of the earliest proponents of animal rights, arguing that the ability to suffer, not the ability to reason, should be the benchmark, and that animals should not be made to suffer unnecessarily.

  • Bentham spoke for a complete equality between the sexes, arguing in favour of women's suffrage, a woman's right to obtain a divorce, and a woman's right to hold political office.

  • He argued for the liberalisation of laws prohibiting homosexual sex, calling for a disproportionate response to public displays or forced acts to be dealt with by other laws.

  • Bentham's writings expressed an opposition to imperialism, arguing that empire was financially unsound, entailed taxation on the poor in the metropole, undermined the security of the metropole, and were ultimately motivated by misguided ideas of honor and glory.

  • He considered both surveillance and transparency to be useful ways of generating understanding and improvements for people's lives, believing that transparency had moral value.

  • Bentham's body was preserved as an auto-icon and is kept on public display at the main entrance of the UCL Student Centre.

  • He is widely associated with the foundation of London University (now UCL), though he played only an indirect role in its establishment.Jeremy Bentham's legacy and influence on the University College London

  • Jeremy Bentham was not a founder of the University College London, but his ideas inspired several of the actual founders of the university.

  • Bentham believed that education should be more widely available, particularly to those who were not wealthy or did not belong to the established church.

  • The University of London was the first in England to admit all, regardless of race, creed or political belief, which was largely consistent with Bentham's vision.

  • There is some evidence that Bentham played a "more than passive part" in the planning discussions for the new institution, although his interest was greater than his influence.

  • Bentham failed in his efforts to see his disciple John Bowring appointed professor of English or History, but he did oversee the appointment of another pupil, John Austin, as the first professor of Jurisprudence in 1829.

  • UCL hosts the Bentham Project, which is progressively publishing a definitive edition of Bentham's writings.

  • UCL now acknowledges Bentham's influence on its foundation, while avoiding any suggestion of direct involvement, by describing him as its "spiritual founder."

  • On his death, Bentham left manuscripts amounting to an estimated 30 million words, which are now largely held by University College London's Special Collections and the British Library.

  • John Bowring, Bentham's intimate friend and disciple, was appointed his literary executor and charged with the task of preparing a collected edition of his works.

  • In 1959, the Bentham Committee was established under the auspices of University College London with the aim of producing a definitive edition of Bentham's writings.

  • The Bentham papers at UCL are being digitized by crowdsourcing their transcription. Transcribe Bentham is a crowdsourced manuscript transcription project.

  • Volunteer-produced transcripts will contribute to the Bentham Project's production of the new edition of The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham.


How much do you know about the father of modern utilitarianism? Test your knowledge with our Jeremy Bentham quiz! From his philosophy of utility to his influence on social and legal reform, this quiz will challenge your understanding of Bentham's life and ideas. Explore his beliefs on animal rights, gender equality, and surveillance, and learn about his lasting legacy on the founding of University College London. Take the quiz now and see how much you really know about this influential philosopher!

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