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Etymology: L, utilis, useful, isma, practice
a doctrine of ethics that the purpose of all action should be to bring about the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people and that the value of anything is determined by its utility. The philosophy is often applied in the distribution of health care resources, as in decisions regarding the expenditure of public funds for health services.


The moral philosophy that holds that an action is ethical according to its utility or usefulness in enhancing the welfare, safety, happiness, or pleasure of the community at large. This doctrine is popularly summarized as an action is ethical if it generates the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

act utilitarianism

The moral theory that the best action is the one that enhances the general welfare more than any other available or known alternative. An action is judged in terms of the goodness of its consequences with no consideration of the rules of action.

rule utilitarianism

The moral theory that an action that follows a demonstrably proven ethical formula will necessarily be a good act. The ethical rule is judged to be correct by the amount of good it effects when it is followed.
References in periodicals archive ?
Dick, was published in 1867, merely four years after Mill's work titled Utilitarianism.
Yet it was not until the writings of Jeremy Bentham in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that utilitarianism was most clearly articulated.
2 (right)): deontology (6 students; 15%), justice (19 students; 49%), teleology (6 students; 15%) and utilitarianism (8 students; 21%).
One task for New Labour is to understand the shortcomings of utilitarianism, and they are these.
What about the reasons for whistleblowing to an internal manager within the philosophical beliefs (MES constructs) of justice, relativism, egoism, utilitarianism, and deontology?
Essentially the same argument was presented by David Lyons in The Forms and Limits of Utilitarianism (Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 1965).
Card's motive utilitarianism can be traced to some tenets of his Christian faith.
Volvo's new V70 is bigger, sleeker, more upmarket and a million miles from the boxy utilitarianism of previous incarnations.
287, 288-90 (1988); Jason Lloyd, Note, Let There Be Justice: A Thomistic Assessment of Utilitarianism and Libertarianism, 8 TEX.