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Bentham, Jeremy

Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) was born in London, and in 1760, he entered Queen’s College, Oxford. When he graduated in 1764, he started studying law at Lincoln’s Inn, London. Bentham never practiced law, although he was qualified to do so, preferring instead to write in favor of both legal reform and the reform of social institutions such as prisons. Indeed, one of Bentham’s main projects was the design of the “Panopticon,” a model prison where the prisoners could be observed at all times by the guards but they could not themselves be seen by the prisoners.

Drawing on both the English tradition of empiricism and his belief in the power of reason, Bentham held that human behavior could be described scientifically. Some of his major works based ...

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