Home >  Blossary: Philosophical Terms  >  Term: Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is a "consequentialist" ethical theory. Utilitarianism is usually connected with the more specific doctrines of Bentham and Mill, who took the goodness of consequences to be measured by their effect on the happiness or welfare of sentient creatures. (This is sometimes referred to as the principle of Utility or the Greatest Happiness Principle.) Bentham focused on pleasure, Mill on a more abstract notion of happiness that allowed him

to maintain that "It is better to be a human being

dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates

dissatisfied than a pig satisfied." For further discussion,

see the Introduction to Part V.

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Philosophical Concepts

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