Utilitarianism

  • Charles D. KayEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_2399-1

Synonyms

Definition

Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory of ethics which states that actions are morally right to the degree that they tend to promote the greatest good for the greatest number. Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory of ethics which states that actions are morally right to the degree that they tend to promote the greatest good for the greatest number.

Introduction

Utilitarianism is the best-known version of consequentialist ethics. Consequentialist ethical theories evaluate the morality of actions strictly on the basis of their outcomes, setting aside any consideration of the agent’s motives or other circumstances. As such utilitarianism is readily distinguished as the opposite of deontology, which evaluates actions solely on the basis of moral duty and the will of the agent. Since it focuses on the morality of individual actions, utilitarianism is also distinct from theories of virtue which are...

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References

  1. Bentham J (1789) An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Oxford: Clarendon PressGoogle Scholar
  2. Brandt RB (1979) A theory of the good and the right. Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  3. Darwall S (ed) (2003) Consequentialism. Oxford Blackwell PublishersGoogle Scholar
  4. Mill JS (1861) Utilitarianism. LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentWofford CollegeSpartanburgUSA