Meaning of BENTHAM, JEREMY (1748-1832)

Meaning of BENTHAM, JEREMY (1748-1832):

The English political philosopher, jurist and social reformer is best known to contemporary sociology for the use Michel Foucault makes of his prison reform schemes. It is unfortunate that Foucault’s presentation of Bentham’s design for the panopticon (a shape of prison that would allow constant surveillance of prisoners by guards) has led current students to regard him as a reactionary oppressor. In the context of the state of British prisons at the time, Bentham was a progressive radical (something recognised by his being made a citizen of France by the revolutionaries in 1792) who, among other good works, founded University College, London. He was a leading utilitarian and was responsible for the dictum that the proper object of all government was the greatest happiness of the greatest number.