UCL Institute for Global Health Symposium: ‘ThePleasures of the Bed: Jeremy Bentham on sex, population and happiness’,4.30-6pm on Monday 14 June 2010

Speakers: Professor Philip Schofield and Dr Michael Quinn (UCL BenthamProject), followed by a panel discussion and drinks reception

The philosopher, jurist and social scientist Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) is considered UCL’s spiritual father, and wrote widely on sex, populationgrowth and wellbeing. This symposium will explore Bentham’s changing viewson population growth, and how he influenced the discourse on population inthe 1820s, as well as exploring his work on sex. How are Bentham’s writingson sex important not only for the history of sex, but for current debates onsex, population and global health? Bentham began with a typically 18th century presumption that the existenceof a large and growing population was an index of the success of a state,while rejecting legislative measures to foster population growth asunnecessary. In his Poor Law writings, he envisaged the deliberate expansionof both subsistence and population through the application of pauper labourto the cultivation of waste lands, and the facilitation of early marriageamong the apprentices of the National Charity Company, confident thatpopulation pressure was a temporally distant concern. In later life, Benthamendorsed Malthus’s principle of population, while rejecting ‘moralrestraint’, Malthus’s pain-imposing solution to population pressure, infavour of pleasure-giving ‘unprolific’ sex (whether unprolific by means ofbirth control or inherently so, as in the case of homosexual sex).

Venue: JZ Young Lecture Theatre, UCL

Registration: //www.ucl.ac.uk/global-health/events 

If you are unable to attend, please note all UCL Institute for Global Healthsymposia are filmed and available to watch shortly after the event at


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