Utilitarianism

(2325 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay


Utilitarianism names a family of ethical views that take as the yardstick of moral appraisal the propensity of actions to increase or diminish human well-being (or, more broadly, that of all sentient creatures). In its basic classical form it holds that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness”, where “happiness” is understood as “pleasure, and the absence of pain” (J.S. Mill). Alternatively, “utility” has been conceived as “correlative to Desire or Want” (Alfred Marshall) and right actions defined as those that most fully satisfy people’s desires or preferences. Common to all forms of …

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Citation:
Scarre, G. F.. "Utilitarianism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 October 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1169, accessed 28 July 2015.]