Timeline of the Philosophical Radicals

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This is a timeline of the Philosophical Radicals, a nineteenth century British reform movement inspired by the utilitarian ideas of Jeremy Bentham[1], also advocating legal, economic, and social reforms including free trade and reform of Parliament and the judiciary.[2] The goal of this movement was to build a society based on rationalistic principles.[3]

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Time period Development summary More details
1820s The philosophical radicals, as a group, come to prominence.
1840s "Disillusioned, the Philosophic Radicals soon receded to private life and ceased to be a political force by the 1840s."[4]
"By the second half of the 19thC, much of the philosophical radicals’ program had been realised, much had become to be seen as inadequate – aristocratic privilege no longer appearing as the central social problematic."[5]

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Year Personality Event type Details
1715 Claude Adrien Helvétius Notable birth Claude Adrien Helvétius is born.
1748 Jeremy Bentham Notable birth Jeremy Bentham is born.[7] He would grow to be an early defender of economic liberalization, freedom of expression, the separation of church and state, women's rights, the right to divorce, the abolition of slavery, the abolition of capital punishment, the abolition of corporal punishment, prison reform, and decriminalization of homosexuality.[8]
1755 Jeremy Bentham Jeremy Bentham attends Westminster School.[9]:18
1760 Jeremy Bentham Twelve years old Jeremy Bentham attends Oxford University and is exempted from taking the oath on account of his youth.[9]:18
1769 Newspaper The Morning Chronicle is founded in London.[10] It would become a supporter of the philosophical radicals.[11]
1771 Francis Place Notable birth Francis Place is born.[12]
1772 David Ricardo Notable birth David Ricardo is born in London.[13] As an economist, he would give systematized, classical form to the rising science of economics in the 19th century.[14] He would apply the deductive logic of the philosopher James Mill to the analysis of monetary principles.[15]
1773 James Mill Notable birth James Mill is born.[16]
1776 Background The American Revolution begins, preparing the way for the European revolutions.[9]:16
1776 Adam Smith Literature Scottish economist and philosopher Adam Smith publishes The Wealth of Nations, which tries to solve the economic problem by taking his stand on the principle of utility.[9]:88 The future philosophical radicals would borrow from Smith certain of his claims. Jeremy Bentham would discover in Smith the principle of the natural identity of interests which would his proclivity for despotism and prepare his conversion (and that of his disciples) to representative democracy and universal suffrage.[17]
1776 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes A fragment on government.[18] In this text, which was inspired by David Hume, Bentham founds a criticism of current constitutional doctrines on the principle of utility.[9]
1780 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation[19], which attempts to assess the moral content of human action by focusing on its results or consequences. The book concludes with an analysis of punishment: its purpose and the proper role that law and jurisprudence should play in its determination and implementation.[20]
1785 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Offences Against One's Self.[21]
1787 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Defence of Usury.[22] This is his first attempt at political economy, in which Bentham adopts the fundamental ideas of Adam Smith.[9] It contains Bentham’s most dramatic defense of laissez-faire capitalism. According to Bentham, whether we consider the plight of the poorest or the ambitions of the most creative, laissez-faire capitalism achieves the best possible outcome, without exception.[23]
1790 John Austin Notable birth John Austin is born.[24] He would be a student of Jeremy Bentham, and as such subscribed to utilitarianism.
1791 Samuel Bailey Notable birth Samuel Bailey is born. He would be called the "Bentham of Hallamshire".[25]
1791 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Essay on Political Tactics.[26]
1791 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Panopticon or the Inspection-House.[27]
1792 John Bowring Notable birth John Bowring is born.[28]
1792 (November 13) Edward John Trelawny Notable birth Edward John Trelawny is born. He would become a biographer, novelist and adventurer, politically active with the Philosophical Radicals.[29]
1793 Albany Fonblanque Notable birth Albany Fonblanque is born.[30]
1794 George Grote Notable birth English historian George Grote is born. He would be noted for his works on ancient Greece.[31] He would also become a member of the Philosophical Radicals.[32]
c.1795 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Anarchical Fallacies; Being an examination of the Declaration of Rights issued during the French Revolution.[33]
1796 Joseph Parkes Notable birth Joseph Parkes is born.[34] He would become a political reformer, developing an association with the Philosophical Radicals.
1802 John Arthur Roebuck Notable birth John Arthur Roebuck is born in Madras.[35]
1802 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Traités de législation civile et pénale.[36]
1804 James Mill Literature James Mill writes a pamphlet on the corn trade, arguing against a bounty on the exportation of grain.[37] This is the first publication under his name.[38]
1806 (August 6) Charles Buller Notable birth Charles Buller is born in Calcutta, British India.[39] He would become a barrister, politician and reformer.[40]:p531
1806 John Stuart Mill Notable birth John Stuart Mill is born.[41]
1808 James Mill, Jeremy Bentham James Mill becomes acquainted with Jeremy Bentham.[38] As Bentham’s chief companion and ally for many years, Mill would adopt Bentham’s principles in their entirety and do more to propagate them and to oppose the beginnings of Romanticism than anyone else.[37]
1810 David Ricardo Literature David Ricardo publishes The High Price of Bullion, a Proof of the Depreciation of Bank Notes.[42]
1810 William Molesworth Notable birth Sir William Molesworth, 8th Baronet is born.[43]
1811 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Punishments and Rewards.[44]
1812 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Panopticon versus New South Wales: or, the Panopticon Penitentiary System, Compared.[45]
1815 David Ricardo Literature David Ricardo publishes Essay on the Influence of a Low Price of Corn on the Profits of Stock.[46]
1817 David Ricardo Literature David Ricardo publishes On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation,[47] which would have a profound impact and remains one of the groundworks of modern economics.[15]
1817 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes A Table of the Springs of Action.[48]
1817 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Swear Not At All.[49] It was written to expose the mischief arising from the laws relating to the administration of oaths.[50]
1817 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes Plan of Parliamentary Reform, in the form of Catechism with Reasons for Each Article, with An Introduction shewing the Necessity and the Inadequacy of Moderate Reform.[51]
1819 Sir Walter Scott Literature Sir Walter Scott writes that "Radical is a word in very bad odour...a set of blackguards".[52]
c.1819 George Grote George Grote is introduced to James Mill by David Ricardo.[53]:p1
1819 "Bentham’s Defense anticipates his assertion in “Radicalism Not Dangerous” (Bentham 1819) that private property and the investment process characterizing the new capitalism generate the best possible outcomes for the working classes. This is the unadorned liberal triumphalist argument. From this perspective, even the poorest workers under a fully laissez-faire capitalist regime are far better off than the rich of antiquity"[23]:p53
1821 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes The Elements of the Art of Packing, as applied to special juries particularly in cases of libel law.[54]
1821 George Grote Literature George Grote publishes Statement of the Question of Parliamentary Reform.[55]
1821 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham publishes On the Liberty of the Press, and Public Discussion, which attempts to influence the direction of political and constitutional change taking place in Spain and Portugal in the early 1820s.[56]
1822 Jeremy Bentham Literature Jeremy Bentham and George Grote publish The Influence of Natural Religion upon the Temporal Happiness of Mankind.[57]. Considered so controversial upon publication, Bentham uses the pseudonym of "Philip Beauchamp." This critical treatise focuses on "natural religion," a school of thought that maintains one could use human reason alone, unaided by faith, to deduce the will of God from the natural order.[58]
1822 John Arthur Roebuck Literature John Arthur Roebuck publishes Remarks on the Proposed Union of the Canadas.
1822 Joseph Parkes Joseph Parkes "established a Birmingham solicitor's practice specializing in election law. He was an advocate of legal reform, and active in the local efforts for parliamentary reform. Although he initially opposed the formation of the Birmingham Political Union, and remained less radical than Thomas Attwood, the BPU's founder, Parkes worked with it during the period of agitation for the Reform Act – acting in effect as an intermediary between radicals and whigs."[59]
1823 Newspaper The Westminster Review is established in London. Grounded originally in Benthamite radicalism, it becomes the official organ of the Philosophical Radicals.[60][61]
1824 John Arthur Roebuck John Arthur Roebuck moves to England, and becomes intimate with the leading radical and utilitarian reformers.[62]
1826 Organization University College London is founded. "In the late 1820s George Grote joined with JS Mill and Henry Brougham in setting up University College London."[32]
1826 Albany Fonblanque Albany Fonblanque becomes political commentator for The Examiner, a weekly newspaper founded by Leigh and John Hunt.[38]
1827 James Mill, Henry Brougham Organization The Society for The Diffusion of Useful Knowledge is established, with Henry Brougham as president, and the committee including James Mill.[38]
1828 Joseph Parkes Literature Joseph Parkes publishes History of the Court of Chancery.[63]
1831 George Grote Literature George Grote publishes Essentials of Parliamentary Reform.[64] It is published on the eve of the passage of the Reform Act 1832 which would largely achieve the goals of the Philosophical Radicals around James Mill.[65]
1832 John Austin Literature John Austin publishes The Province of Jurisprudence Determined.[66]
1832 The Reform Act 1832 is introduced. After this, Philosophical Radicals' efforts to construct a radical party in Parliament would not succeed. John Stuart Mill would write ‘they did very little to promote any opinions,’ ‘they had little enterprise, little activity.’[67]
1832 (June 6) Jeremy Bentham Notable death Jeremy Bentham dies, leaving a major contribution to International Law as legacy, providing the legal foundation for the League of Nations, the United Nations and the International Court of Justice, offering the framework by which nations today can go to court not to war.[68]
1832 George Grote George Grote is elected to the Reformed Parliament in the election.[32]
1833 Joseph Parkes Joseph Parkes is appointed by Henry Brougham as secretary to the Parliamentary Municipal Corporation Commission on municipal corporations. Parkes would combine this work with a successful Westminster practice as a parliamentary solicitor.[59][69]
1834 John Bowring Literature John Bowring publishes Bentham's Deontology.[70]
1835 Newspaper The London Review is founded by John Stuart Mill and other philosophical radicals. It would merge into The Westminster Review the following year.[71]
1836 Organization The Reform Club is founded for promoting social intercourse between the whigs and the radicals.[72]
1836 James Mill James Mill dies.[37]
1837 "In an article from 1837, Mill explained that Philosophic Radicals engage in politics with the mindset of philosophers: “[W]hen they are discussing means, [they] begin by considering the end, and when they desire to produce effects, think of causes” (quoted Thomas 2). One might expect that such aim and definition would meet with the approval of a society whose commitment to feasibility and utility were satirized in works like Dicken’s Hard Times (1854). Yet exactly the opposite occurred. Mill’s programmatic definition prompted public ridicule, and most importantly failed to provide a unifying cause to those radicals already in Parliament."[4]
1843 John Arthur Roebuck John Arthur Roebuck is appointed queen's counsel, and is elected a bencher of his inn.[72]
1844 John Stuart Mill Literature "John Stuart Mill published the Essays on Some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy, which he had written several years earlier, and four out of five of these essays are solutions of perplexing technical problems—the distribution of the gains of international commerce, the influence of consumption on production, the definition of productive and unproductive labour, and the precise relations between profits and wages. Here for the most part Mill appears as the disciple of David Ricardo, striving after more precise statements and reaching forward to further consequences."[73]
1847 George Grote Literature George Grote publishes Seven Letters on the Recent Politics of Switzerland.[74]
1848 (November 29) Charles Buller Notable death Charles Buller dies.[75]
1848 John Stuart Mill Literature John Stuart Mill publishes Principles of Political Economy, which theoretically discusses his deep commitment to egalitarianism and his observation of the material progress launched by the industrial revolution, he built up claims for the greatest happiness of the greatest number.[23]:p21 At about the same time, Mill advocates the creation of peasant proprietorships as a remedy for the distresses and disorder in Ireland.[73] In his central discussion of profit, he radically declares, “The cause of profit is, that labour produces more than is required for its support”.[23]:p76
1849 John Arthur Roebuck Literature John Arthur Roebuck publishes The Colonies of England : A Plan for the Government of Portion of Our Colonial Possessions.
1855 (October 22) William Molesworth Notable death Sir William Molesworth, 8th Baronet dies.[76]
1858 (January 1) Francis Place Francis Place dies.[77]
1863 John Austin Literature John Austin publishes Lectures on Jurisprudence. Now considered a landmark in the development of modern legal thought, its most important contributions are the strict delimitation of law and its distinction from morality, the elaboration of the idea of law as a kind of command and the close examination of such common legal terms as right, duty, liberty, injury and punishment.[78]
1865 (August 11) Joseph Parkes Notable death Joseph Parkes dies.[79]
1865 John Stuart Mill Literature John Stuart Mill publishes Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy.[73]
1865 John Stuart Mill Literature John Stuart Mill publishes Auguste Comte and Positivism.[73]
1866 Literature Mrs. Harriet (Lewin) Grote publishes Philosophical Radicals of 1832: Comprising the Life of Sir William Molesworth, and Some Incidents Connected with the Reform Movement from 1832 to 1842.[80]
1867 John Stuart Mill The Reform Act 1867 is passed, increasing the number of men who could vote in elections.[81] John Stuart Mill, among others, took an active part in the debates preceding the passage of this legislation, and helped to extract from the government several useful modifications of the bill, for the prevention of corrupt practices.[73]
1870 Élie Halévy Notable birth Élie Halévy is born. A French philosopher and historian, he would write studies of the British utilitarians.[82]
1871 (June 18) George Grote Notable death George Grote dies.[83]
1872 (November 23) John Bowring Notable death John Bowring dies at the age of 80, leaving a legacy of liberal ideas. His impact would be spread over many fields.[84]
1873 John Stuart Mill Concept development John Stuart Mill popularizes the term philosophical radicals in his Autobiography.[67]
1873 (May 7) John Stuart Mill Notable death John Stuart Mill dies.[73]
1874 John Stuart Mill Literature John Stuart Mill Autobiography and Three Essays on Religion are published posthumously.[73]
1879 (November 30) John Arthur Roebuck Notable death John Arthur Roebuck dies.[85]
1901 Élie Halévy Élie Halévy, after studying at the École Normale Supérieure, receives his doctorate in philosophy with the theses The Platonic Theory of Knowledge and The Origins of Philosophical Radicalism.
1904 Élie Halévy Concept development French historian Élie Halévy introduces the term philosophical radicals into history in his book The Growth of Philosophical Radicalism.[67]
1965 Literature Joseph Hamburger publishes Intellectuals in Politics: John Stuart Mill and the Philosophic Radicals.
1975 Literature Harold Silver publishes English Education and the Radicals.[86]
1979 Literature William Thomas publishes The Philosophic Radicals: Nine Studies in Theory and Practice, 1817-1841. According to it, “the young utilitarians around John Mill did utter their opinions with a dogmatism which aroused a good deal of hostility” (Thomas 1f) did little to weaken that belief.[3]
1993 Literature Roger S. Gottlieb publishes Radical Philosophy: Tradition, Counter-Tradition, Politics.[87]
2013 John Stuart Mill Literature David Brink publishes his Mill’s Progressive Principles, which attempts to provide a cogent argument for the consistency of Mill’s liberalism.
2015 Literature Chad Kautzer publishes Radical Philosophy: An Introduction.[88]
2019 Literature Seth Pringle-Pattison publishes The Philosophical Radicals and Other Essays, with Chapters Reprinted on the Philosophy.[89]

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References

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