February 15, 2006
Today in History: Jeremy Bentham
No intellectual current has had more of an impact on contract theory in the past forty years than the law and economics movement. An important strand in that movement is utilitarian analysis. And utilitarianism, in a way, started on this date, February 15, 1748, when Jeremy Bentham was born at Houndsditch, London, the son and grandson of attorneys. Bentham was a prototype for the modern law professor: he qualified to practice at Lincoln's Inn but never actually practiced, spending his time instead writing about law.
He left his estate to help found University College, London, where his cadaver -- embalmed, dressed, and seated in a chair wearing a big hat -- still greets visitors. (Image: Michael Reeve, GNU License, Wikipedia)
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