Birth 15 February 1748 London, England
Death 6 June 1832 London, England
Influenced by John Locke, David Hume, Baron de Montesquieu, Claude Adrien Helvétius, Thomas Hobbes
Influenced John Stuart Mill, Michel Foucault, Peter Singer, Iain King, John Austin
Jeremy Bentham (15 February 1748–6 June 1832) was an English jurist, philosopher, and legal and social reformer. He was a political radical, and a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law. He is best known for his advocacy of utilitarianism, for the concept of animal rights, and his opposition to the idea of natural rights, with his oft-quoted statement that the idea of such rights is "nonsense upon stilts." He also influenced the development of welfarism.
He became known as one of the most influential of the utilitarians, through his own work and that of his students. These included his secretary and collaborator on the utilitarian school of philosophy, James Mill; James Mill's son John Stuart Mill; and several political leaders including Robert Owen, who later became a founder of socialism. He is also considered the godfather of University College London.
Bentham's position included arguments in favour of individual and economic freedom, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the end of slavery, the abolition of physical punishment (including that of children), the right to divorce, free trade, usury, and the decriminalization of homosexuality.