Bentham on Pleasure

02.09.2021 - By Talking Politics: HISTORY OF IDEAS

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Jeremy Bentham’s Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation is a definitive early statement of the basis of utilitarianism: how do we achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number? David looks at Bentham’s rationale for this approach and the many criticisms it has faced. Bentham has often been accused of reducing politics to mechanical calculation and missing what really matters. But given the time in which he was writing, wasn’t the prioritisation of pleasure the most radical idea of all?

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Going deeper…

- Philip Lucas and Anne Sheeran, ‘Asperger’s Syndrome and the Eccentricity and Genius of Jeremy Bentham’ (2006)
- Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish (1975)
- Thomas McMullan, ‘What does the panopticon mean in the age of digital surveillance?’, The Guardian (2015)
- (Audio) In Our Time, Utilitarianism
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