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Related to utilitarian: Kantian, Utilitarian ethics


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 ?
We started from the hypothesis that the individuals receiving the hedonic prize would show a smaller degree of understanding of the rules than the individuals receiving a utilitarian prize.
This experiment provided the researchers with a sense of whether utilitarian responders and selfish responders are alike in having lower empathetic concern.
In the first intervention, Group 1 was sent the utilitarian stimuli (2 for 1--buy one book and get another one for free) whereas Group 2 got the informational message (If you buy a book, we will give another one to charity).
Modest successes were achieved here and there in changing the curriculum along utilitarian lines.
retributive theory and prevention-oriented utilitarian goals.
First, we review the literature of media selection and the utilitarian and hedonic literature about product/service attributes.
Utilitarian theories of punishment, while perhaps not as old as retributivism, may also date back several millennia.
A final test revealed that 35 subjects who based their sentences on retributive information were substantially more confident that the punishment they had selected was correct than were subjects who based their sentences on utilitarian information.
The effects of hedonic and utilitarian experiences upon shopper's responses to marketing activities extend beyond immediate reactions to the shopping milieu.
In the face of rampant philosophical diversity, utilitarians too often miss the point and ask whether pluralism is good for utility when they ought to step back and consider that others would like to rule according to their dogma too.
He covers a range of theories, from neo-liberalism and its commitment to free markets and individual liberties to utilitarian arguments that emphasize social consequences of cooperation and collective activity.