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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 ?
In the social media scenario, moral equity, egoism, and utilitarianism are significant predictors of behavioral intention, while moral equity is the only significant predictor of ethical awareness.
It is possible to argue that utilitarianism entered into Australian culture in an essentially Burkean fashion, as part of the British inheritance which the colonists brought with them rather than as an abstract set of doctrines that the Australian colonists set about implementing to create a new and modern world (with the possible exception of South Australia).
Each item, involved injustice, relativism, deontology, egoism, and utilitarianism was rated on the seven points Likert-type in the MES.
But to only associate utilitarian with the practical and useful, especially in economic terms, while also stating that the "utilitarian philosopher" limits himself to "immediate practical result" misses the mark of classical utilitarianism.
Feldman notes that Nozick has plenty of other arguments against utilitarianism that never refer to the experience machine.
Utilitarianism refuses to make moral distinctions between types of pleasure (Posner, 1981, p.
The moral code of Utilitarianism, with its emphasis on serving humanity, is the basis of what Robert Wright calls the new Darwinian paradigm, which is based on the premise that one can practice "evolutionary ethics" without denying the truth of Darwin's ideas.
What is remarkable in utilitarianism is that it carries out an extreme reduction of the fundamental motivations of the human being (reducing them to pleasure and pain) in eliminating all moral considerations that might not be founded on the quest for happiness (and, in the last resort, pleasure).
The following section will review some of the work of Bentham such as his work on utilitarianism, the use of surveillance to internalise the desired behaviour of individuals and publicity [the term Bentham used for reporting], which are all directly relevant when examining New Public Management.
20) This Comment attempts to further the debate over theories of criminal punishment by investigating whether such retributivist appeals to utilitarianism are valid and can achieve utilitarian goals.
In the ethical sphere, the book is particularly focused on utilitarianism and communitarianism.
He therefore judges harshly the stark "supermodernism" of many contemporary architects, though he considers where a strict utilitarianism might be what is most desirable.