utilitarianism

  

Definition

An ethical philosophy in which the happiness of the greatest number of people in the society is considered the greatest good. According to this philosophy, an action is morally right if its consequences lead to happiness (absence of pain), and wrong if it ends in unhappiness (pain).

Since the link between actions and their happy or unhappy outcomes depends on the circumstances, no moral principle is absolute or necessary in itself under utilitarianism. Proposed by the English philosopher-reformer Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) in his 1789 book Principles Of Morals And Legislation it was developed by the English philosopher-economist John Stuart Mill (1806-73) in his 1863 book Utilitarianism.


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