Jeremy Bentham's law of marriage is firmly based on the principle of utility, which claims that all human actions are governed by a wish to gain pleasure and avoid pain, and on the proposition that men and women are equal. He wrote in a late eighteenth century context of Enlightenment debate about marriage and the family. As such his contemporaries were Hume, Locke and Milton; Wollstonecraft and More. These were the turbulent years leading to the French Revolution and it is in this milieu that Mary Sokol seeks to rediscover the historical' Bentham. Instead of regarding his thought as timeless', she considers Bentham's attitude to the reform of marriage law and plans for the social reform of marriage, placing both his life and work in the philosophical and historical context of his time.

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