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Bentham, Jeremy, 1748-1832, English philosopher, jurist, political theorist; founder of Utilitarianism. Educated as a lawyer, Bentham devoted himself to the scientific analysis of morals and law. His Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (1789) held that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should govern our judgment of every institution and action. The 19th-century reforms of criminal law, of judicial organization, and of the parliamentary electorate owe much to Bentham's active work in English legislative reform, and his thought strongly influeced that of John Stuart Mill.

From The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, c1983.

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Last revision: 2002-05-05