the Principle of Utility (1789)
The first chapter of Bentham's "Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation," his best known and probably most important theoretical work. In it, he outlines his notion of the principle of utility as "that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question; or, what is the same thing in other words to promote or to oppose that happiness. I say of every action whatsoever, and therefore not only of every action of a private individual, but of every measure of government." The implications were, of course, revolutionary.