- philosophical radical
adherent of the utilitarian political philosophy that stemmed from the 18th- and 19th-century English jurist Jeremy Bentham (Bentham, Jeremy) and culminated in the doctrine of the 19th-century English philosopher John Stuart Mill (Mill, John Stuart). Bentham believed that “Nature has placed mankind under the governance of two masters, pain and pleasure” and that actions should be judged morally right or wrong according to whether or not they tend to maximize pleasure and minimize pain among those affected by them. He explored the implications of this principle for legal and other social institutions. Bentham's theory was developed and refined by Mill, who held that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Other philosophical radicals included the economists James Mill (Mill, James) and David Ricardo (Ricardo, David), the jurist John Austin (Austin, John), and the historian George Grote (Grote, George). They favoured economic and political liberalism and, although primarily theorists, they aimed at and achieved considerable practical influence.
* * *