- 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.
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Utilitarianism — • A modern form of the Hedonistic ethical theory which teaches that the end of human conduct is happiness, and that consequently the discriminating norm which distinguishes conduct into right and wrong is pleasure and pain Catholic Encyclopedia.… … Catholic encyclopedia
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Utilitarianism — U*til i*ta ri*an*ism, n. 1. The doctrine that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the end and aim of all social and political institutions. Bentham. [1913 Webster] 2. The doctrine that virtue is founded in utility, or that… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
utilitarianism — 1827, from UTILITARIAN (Cf. utilitarian) + ISM (Cf. ism) … Etymology dictionary
utilitarianism — ► NOUN 1) the doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority. 2) the doctrine that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principle of conduct … English terms dictionary
utilitarianism — [yo͞o til΄ə ter′ē əniz΄əm] n. 1. the doctrine that the worth or value of anything is determined solely by its utility 2. the doctrine, developed by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, that the purpose of all action should be to bring about the… … English World dictionary
Utilitarianism — This article discusses utilitarian ethical theory. For a discussion of John Stuart Mill s book Utilitarianism, see Utilitarianism (book). For the architectural theory, see Utilitarianism (architecture) Part of a series on … Wikipedia
utilitarianism — /yooh til i tair ee euh niz euhm/, n. the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons. [1820 30; UTILITARIAN + ISM] * * * Ethical… … Universalium
Utilitarianism — A philosophy that bases the moral worth of an action upon the number of people it gives happiness or pleasure to. A utilitarian philosophy is used when making social, economic or political decisions for the betterment of society . In… … Investment dictionary