utilitarianism

n.
an ethical theory holding that utility is morally important and should always be maximized. There are different definitions of utility but all relate to the consequences of actions as opposed to the intentions or principles behind them (see consequentialism). Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), the progenitor of utilitarianism, identified utility with pleasure and disutility with pain and argued that we should always act so as to maximize the former and minimize the latter. John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) refined the theory by distinguishing between lower and higher pleasures while contemporary theories tend to talk about maximizing preferences. However utility is defined, there is an obvious tension between maximizing utility for an individual and maximizing everyone's utility.
Derivatives:
utilitarian adj.

The new mediacal dictionary. 2014.

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