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Related to Utilitarians: deontologists, Kantians


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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Although this first Geneva Convention dealt only with the treatment of the sick and wounded on the battlefield, for the first time the humanitarians were setting rules on how the utilitarians could conduct themselves on the battlefield.
However, the utilitarian argument for such institutions should not be entirely unfamiliar to readers--Bailey acknowledges debts to Russell Hardin,(3) for example.
Similarly, he is an ambiguous utilitarian, as Weinstein acknowledges, even if he enjoys a place in its history.
Utilitarians are concerned with amounts of value not with percentages of value.
To defend the moral rights of animals would be to claim that certain ways of treating animals cannot be justified on utilitarian grounds.
Kant's and the utilitarians' principles were designed to explain how individuals, not nations, justify their actions.
However, even if Audi were right that utilitarians must sometimes praise the character of persons who--through abysmal "moral luck"--consistently produce bad results, while deeming their actions excusable wrongs, it is not clear that this "normative cleavage" (22) would be damning.
They will need to dismantle what is unchristian and utilitarian in their old way of thinking and replace it by a moral analysis that helps them to find the will of God in the choices of every day.
It's what's wrong with much of modern economic thought, this utilitarian rationalism--in Stigler's political economy as against Friedman's, or in Richard Posner's law and economy as against Ronald Coase's.
Thanks to critics from Charles Dickens to Michel Foucault, pre-20th century utilitarian philosophers have gained a reputation as amoral libertines or cold rationalists, impervious to what people today might call "social justice." But William Godwin, Jeremy Bentham, and other classical utilitarians were dedicated humanists, deeply concerned with social reform, and often radically progressive on women's rights, sexual relations, and other cultural issues.
Utilitarians tolerate self-benefiting actions only in that context.
Logsdon asserts, "drawing instruction was viewed as a means to an economic end, [so] the policy philosophically shares more with the 'greater good' thesis espoused by utilitarians than with pragmatism's notion of an individual's considered inquiry into an array of potential life consequences." (24) While she acknowledges the utilitarian idea of "the greatest good for the greatest number," it is not clear whether she understands the connection between the ethical theory in its fullness.