Definition of utilitarianism in English:

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Pronunciation: /jʊˌtɪlɪˈtɛːrɪənɪz(ə)m/


[mass noun]
1The doctrine that actions are right if they are useful or for the benefit of a majority.
Example sentences
  • After all, moral theories such as Kantianism, utilitarianism, and common-sense morality require that an agent give weight to the interests of others.
  • He argued that Kantianism and utilitarianism, the two major traditions in western moral philosophy, mistakenly placed the foundation for morality in legalistic notions such as duty and obligation.
  • The report identified social justice and economic-rationalist utilitarianism as the major competing educational philosophies or ideologies.
1.1The doctrine that an action is right in so far as it promotes happiness, and that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the guiding principle of conduct.
Example sentences
  • Thus, if the operating principle of utilitarianism is to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number, it would be impossible to realize because there is no way to know what constitutes that happiness.
  • And once happiness is itself moralized, the credentials of utilitarianism as an overall theory of ethics are compromised.
  • Critics have traditionally attacked utilitarianism for focusing too heavily on happiness, and not enough on other intrinsic goods, such as justice and rights.

The most famous exponents of utilitarianism were Jeremy Bentham and J. S. Mill. It has been criticized for focusing on the consequences rather than the motive or intrinsic nature of an action, for the difficulty of adequately comparing the happiness of different individuals, and for failing to account for the value placed on concepts such as justice and equality.

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Line breaks: utili|tar¦ian|ism

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