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date: 28 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and James Mill (1773–1836) first came into contact in 1808 or 1809, and, despite their very different backgrounds, joined forces to create the movement that has become known as philosophic radicalism. Both Bentham and Mill accepted that human beings, and sentient creatures generally, were motivated by a desire for pleasure and an aversion to pain, and that happiness consisted in a balance of pleasure over pain. In their view, the only right and proper actions were those which contributed to the greatest happiness of the greatest number. From this utilitarian perspective, they condemned the existing British political, legal, and ecclesiastical establishments, and developed proposals in favour of radical parliamentary reform, which would see a democratic House of Commons counterbalance the sinister interest of monarch and aristocracy. By 1818 Bentham had become a republican, and went on to develop even more radical proposals for political reform. Bentham argued that only under a representative democracy could the interests of rulers be identified with those of subjects, and hence the happiness of the community as a whole effectively pursued.

Keywords: Aptitude, Constitutional Law, Democracy, Parliamentary Reform, Political Radicalism, Publicity, Republicanism, Utilitarianism

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