Jeremy Bentham (15 February 1748 – 6 June 1832) was an English philosopher, jurist and social reformer. He is regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism.
Bentham became a leading theorist in Anglo-American philosophy of law, and a political radical whose ideas influenced the development of welfarism. He advocated individual and economic freedom, usury, the separation of church and state, freedom of expression, equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. He called for the abolition of slavery and the death penalty, and for the abolition of physical punishment, including that of children. Though strongly in favour of the extension of individual legal rights, he opposed the idea of natural law and natural rights, calling them "nonsense upon stilts".
Bentham's students included his secretary and collaborator James Mill, the latter's son, John Stuart Mill, the legal philosopher John Austin, as well as influential political figures such as Robert Owen, one of the founders of modern socialism. Bentham has been described as the "spiritual founder" of University College London, though he played little direct part in its foundation. In recent years he has become known as an early advocate of animal rights.
1.) "Bentham was an atheist and in no sense of the word could he be described as a theologian." - James E. Crimmins, Bentham on Religion: Atheism and The Secular Society