Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as Ethical egoism and Altruism (ethics), utilitarianism considers the interests of all humans: - Equal consideration of interests.
Although different varieties of utilitarianism admit different characterizations, the basic idea behind all of them is to in some sense maximize utility, which is often defined in terms of well-being or related concepts.
For instance, Jeremy Bentham, the founder of utilitarianism, described utility as "that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit, advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness...[or] to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose interest is considered."
Proponents of utilitarianism have disagreed on a number of points, such as whether actions should be chosen based on their likely results (act utilitarianism) or whether Agency (philosophy) should conform to rules that maximize utility (rule utilitarianism).
There is also disagreement as to whether total (Average and total utilitarianism), average (Average and total utilitarianism#Average utilitarianism) or minimum utility should be maximized.
Though the seeds of the theory can be found in the hedonism Aristippus and Epicurus, who viewed happiness as the only good, the tradition of utilitarianism properly began with Bentham, and has included John Stuart Mill, Henry Sidgwick, R. M. Hare, David Braybrooke and Peter Singer.
# See also
- Altruism (ethical doctrine) - Applied ethics - Anti-Utilitarianism - Appeal to consequences - Bounded rationality - Charity International - Classical liberalism - Cost–benefit analysis - Decision analysis - Decision theory - Effective altruism - Gross national happiness - List of utilitarians - Pleasure principle (psychology) - Prioritarianism - Probabilistic reasoning - Relative utilitarianism - State consequentialism - Uncertainty - Utility monster - Utilitarian bioethics - Utilitarian cake-cutting