doctrine that the useful is the good; especially as elaborated by Jeremy Bentham and James Mill; the aim was said to be the greatest happiness for the greatest number
A system of ethics based on the premise that something's value may be measured by its usefulness.
the theory that action should be directed toward achieving the "greatest happiness for the greatest number of people"; hedonistic universalism.
the doctrine that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the end and aim of all social and political institutions
the doctrine that virtue is founded in utility, or that virtue is defined and enforced by its tendency to promote the highest happiness of the universe
the doctrine that utility is the sole standard of morality, so that the rectitude of an action is determined by its usefulness
Utilitarianism is a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, specifically defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering. Classic utilitarianism, as advocated by two influential contributors, Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, is hedonistic. It is now generally taken to be a form of consequentialism, although when Anscombe first introduced that term it was to distinguish between "old-fashioned Utilitarianism" and consequentialism. According to utilitarianism the moral worth of an action is determined only by its resulting outcome, although there is debate over how much consideration should be given to actual consequences, foreseen consequences and intended consequences. In A Fragment on Government, Bentham says, "it is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong" and describes this as a fundamental axiom. In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, he talks of "the principle of utility" but later prefers "the greatest happiness principle." Utilitarianism can be characterized as a quantitative and reductionist approach to ethics. It is a type of naturalism. It can be contrasted with deontological ethics, which does not regard the consequences of an act as a determinant of its moral worth; virtue ethics, which primarily focuses on acts and habits leading to happiness; pragmatic ethics; as well as with ethical egoism and other varieties of consequentialism.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia
the theory which makes happiness the end of life and the test of virtue, and maintains that "actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, and wrong as they tend to produce the reverse," a theory characterised by Carlyle, who is never weary of denouncing it, as "reducing the infinite celestial soul of man to a kind of hay-balance for weighing hay and thistles on, pleasures and pains on." The great apostle of this theory was John Stuart Mill, and the great father of it Jeremy Bentham.
The numerical value of utilitarianism in Chaldean Numerology is: 1
The numerical value of utilitarianism in Pythagorean Numerology is: 4
Images & Illustrations of utilitarianism
Translations for utilitarianism
From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary
Get even more translations for utilitarianism »
Find a translation for the utilitarianism definition in other languages:
Select another language:
Discuss these utilitarianism definitions with the community:
Word of the Day
Would you like us to send you a FREE new word definition delivered to your inbox daily?
Use the citation below to add this definition to your bibliography:
"utilitarianism." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 26 Jun 2017. <http://www.definitions.net/definition/utilitarianism>.