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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 ?
When a utilitarian approach is taken, the other academic areas are often given short shrift as well.
Leann Logsdon also echoes these sentiments by asserting that utilitarian goals are more extreme than instrumental ones because the discourse among arts advocates "is shifting in an explicitly utilitarian direction, with arts education increasingly placed in the service of realizing material economic goals.
These are just a few examples that show, in varying degrees, the term utilitarian as having a negative connotation.
Utilitarians must engage in further research in an effort to mitigate the effects of cognitive biases on deterrence levels.
18) A common argument is to support a retributivist system of punishment, but with attempts to appeal to certain utilitarian concerns.
Thus, based on this behavioral psychology research, utilitarian goals of punishment, and deterrence in particular, are best served through a purely utilitarian theory of punishment.
Previous conventions had forced the utilitarians to deal with issues such as the treatment of the sick and wounded and prisoners of war--duties which most utilitarians saw as part of their "warrior code" anyway.
Utilitarians are quick to defend former President Clinton's decision not to sign the treaty.
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.
One complication is that the empirical dispute over the likelihood of significant human benefits emerging from various lines of research, which makes utilitarian justifications of experimentation so complex, will reappear here.
ranges based on relative desert but allows utilitarian objectives to
culpability, (18) and those near the utilitarian pole who believe that