William Godwin (3 March 1756 – 7 April 1836) was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist . He is considered one of the first exponents of utilitarianism , and the first modern proponent of anarchism . [ 1 ] Godwin is most famous for two books that he published within the space of a year: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice , an attack on political institutions , and Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams , which attacks aristocratic privilege, but also is the first mystery novel . Based on the success of both, Godwin featured prominently in the radical circles of London in the 1790s. In the ensuing conservative reaction to British radicalism , Godwin was attacked, in part because of his marriage to the pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft in 1797 and his candid biography of her after her death; their daughter, Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley) would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley .
Title page from the third edition of Political Justice Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and its Influence on Morals and Happiness (1793) outlines the political philosophy of the 18th-century philosopher William Godwin . [ edit ] Background and publication Godwin began thinking about Political Justice in 1791, after the publication of Thomas Paine's Rights of Man in response to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).
Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, specifically defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering. Classic utilitarianism, as advocated by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill , is hedonistic . [ 1 ] It is now generally taken to be a form of consequentialism , although when Anscombe first introduced that term it was to distinguish between "old-fashioned Utilitarianism" and consequentialism. [ 2 ] According to utilitarianism the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, although there is debate over how much consideration should be given to actual consequences, foreseen consequences and intended consequences. Two influential contributors to this theory are Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill.
Henry Sidgwick (31 May 1838 – 28 August 1900) was an English utilitarian philosopher and economist . He was one of the founders and first president of the Society for Psychical Research , a member of the Metaphysical Society , and promoted the higher education of women . His work in economics has also had a lasting influence. [ edit ] Biography He was born at Skipton in Yorkshire , where his father, the Reverend W.
Jeremy Bentham ( pron.: / ˈ b ɛ n θ əm / ; 15 February 1748 OS – 6 June 1832) was a British 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 , the separation of church and state , freedom of expression , equal rights for women, the right to divorce, and the decriminalising of homosexual acts. [ 1 ] He called for the abolition of slavery , the abolition of the death penalty , and the abolition of physical punishment, including that of children. [ 2 ] He has also become known in recent years as an early advocate of animal rights . [ 3 ] 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." [ 4 ]
Mary Wollstonecraft ( pron.: / ˈ w ʊ l s t ən . k r ɑː f t / ; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights . During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative , a history of the French Revolution , a conduct book , and a children's book. Wollstonecraft is best known for A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), in which she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear to be only because they lack education. She suggests that both men and women should be treated as rational beings and imagines a social order founded on reason. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal relationships, received more attention than her writing.
Mary Shelley ( née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin ; 30 August 1797 – 1 February 1851) was an English novelist, short story writer, dramatist, essayist, biographer, and travel writer , best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus (1818). She also edited and promoted the works of her husband, the Romantic poet and philosopher Percy Bysshe Shelley . Her father was the political philosopher William Godwin , and her mother was the philosopher and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft .
Percy Bysshe Shelley ( pron.: / ˈ p ɜr s i ˈ b ɪ ʃ ˈ ʃ ɛ l i / ; [ 2 ] 4 August 1792 – 8 July 1822) was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. A radical in his poetry and his political and social views, fame eluded him during his lifetime, but recognition grew steadily following his death. Shelley was a key member of a close circle of visionary poets and writers that included Lord Byron ; Leigh Hunt ; Thomas Love Peacock ; and his own second wife, Mary Shelley , the author of Frankenstein . Shelley is perhaps best known for such classic poems as Ozymandias , Ode to the West Wind , To a Skylark , Music, When Soft Voices Die , The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy .
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by Mary Shelley about a creature produced by an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was nineteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818.