Jeremy Bentham was a prominent figure in the world history. He was a philosopher with radical political views. His ideas were surprising, because at that time, laws were rather cruel. Bentham had many thoughts of how to make laws more humane, and he made a great contribution into the development of ethics.
Jeremy Bentham, the son of a lawyer, was born in London in 1748. His family was not penniless. Being a little boy, Bentham used to give his father reasons to be proud of him. When he turned three, he became fond of Latin. He was interested in reading books since his early childhood. When the boy turned five, everyone thought that he was a real philosopher. One or two years later, he started to be curious about French. When his parents sent him to school, he did not like playing with other children but succeeded academically. College also brought no happiness to Bentham. In 1763, at the age of sixteen, Bentham took his degree of B. A. Several years afterwards, he received his Master’s Degree and was admitted to the bar.
Bentham was not interested in his job, so he made no efforts to succeed in it. Thus, not trying to become a famous lawyer, he had enough time to earn a more long-lasting recognition by sharing his views in his works. For example, he thought that to obtain peace all around the globe, Europe should become a single unit. He expected that there would be European Parliament or something similar, which would reduce expenditures on armaments, ensure free trade, the freedom of expression, and abandon colonies. Bentham also criticized a big number of the existing laws, including the one of libel. Radical reformers adored his work. Bentham cofounded a journal where radical philosophers could share their ideas with people. He argued that not only men, but also women had the right to vote. According to Simkin, the philosopher died when he was eighty-four.
Bentham's contribution to the study of ethics is huge. At that time, his ideas were fresh, rather surprising, and most importantly, necessary for the society. He is considered as one of the cofounders of utilitarianism, which is an approach to ethics. The main idea of utilitarianism is that only when an individual commits an act which is right from the standpoint of morality, this action brings the utmost good. It means that only the results of deeds determine whether these deeds are right or wrong. This concept also presumes that an individual’s purpose is to contribute as much to the good as he or she can. An individual should be aware that there is no difference between his or her good and that of the others. For Bentham, the good was equal to pleasure. He believed that humans looked for pleasure and tended to avoid pain. Bentham connected his thoughts with the necessity of implementing a social reform, because he considered that the laws of that time did not conform to morality. Bentham noticed that people tended to hurt those who failed to comply with their taste. He was against such punishments and considered them illegal: The prejudice in question can be dealt with by showing it to be ill-grounded. Thus, he thought that punishing an individual for being somehow different from others, for example, in his or her sexual orientation, was unethical.
Bentham became a great philosopher when he was a little child. He was very intelligent, even ingenious. His views seem right for those who live today; however, back then, few people could understand him. His ideas concerning ethics helped to develop this study and served as a background for fighting against prejudice.