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Related to Utilitarians: deontologists, Kantians


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 ?
The fundamental tenet of rights views is opposition to utilitarian justifications for harming individuals, and as we saw above, researchers' justification for animal research is utilitarian.
In a series of experiments, utilitarian moral judgment was revealed to be specifically associated with reduced empathic concern, and not with any of the demographic or cultural variables tested, nor with other aspects of empathic responding, including personal distress and perspective taking.
Harris's utilitarian ethics entails altruism, because in order to advance the greatest happiness for others, an individual must sacrifice his own values.
Because of the attempt to supplant so-called utilitarian justification with aesthetic education, the former term was looked upon with scorn, and in the field of arts education utilitanan is a term that has continued to be spurned.
Yet this does not mean that utilitarians have won and should pack up and go home happy.
Judis argues that President Bush and his supporters are wrong to use John Stuart Mill--type utilitarian justifications in support of the Iraq War.
From the beginning of the recorded history of combat, the rules regulating the conduct of warriors on the battlefield have been written by the utilitarians for the warriors.
Others have the most sophisticated academic credentials, yet uphold a utilitarian bioethics that denigrates human life.
Applying ideas from evolutionary theory, he argues that utilitarian norms will die out, over time, if utilitarians allow themselves to be exploited.
Other utilitarians claim absolute or near absolute status for certain basic rights, but these are usually much more basic person-protecting constraints than those claimed by Spencer.
between utilitarian actions which are merciful and those which are frugal, the latter being part of the Benthamite view that punishments should not promote more unhappiness than is required.
designed to further utilitarian goals such as general deterrence,