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The Philosophical Radicals was a philosophically-minded group of English political radicals in the nineteenth century inspired by Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and James Mill (1773–1836). Individuals within this group included Francis Place (1771–1854), George Grote (1794–1871), Joseph Parkes (1796–1865), John Arthur Roebuck (1802–1879), Charles Buller (1806–1848), John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), Edward John Trelawny (1792–1881), and William Molesworth (1810–1855).

Several became Radical members of Parliament, and the group as a whole attempted to use the Westminster Review to exert influence on public opinion. They rejected any philosophical or legal naturalism and furthered Jeremy Bentham's utilitarian philosophy. Utilitarianism as a moral philosophy argues that maximizing happiness should be the moral standard by which our actions should be measured. It thereby stands in contrast to the rationalistic ethics of Immanuel Kant as well as to the convictions of idealism, amongst others.


Further readingEdit

  • Joseph Hamburger (1965) Intellectuals in Politics: John Stuart Mill and the Philosophical Radicals (Yale University Press)
  • William Thomas (1979) The Philosophical Radicals: Nine Studies in Theory and Practice (Oxford)