ethical theory which holds that the right action is the one that maximizes aggregate well-being

Utilitarianism is the view that the right thing to do is whatever is most useful.[1] It is a philosophical position about ethics. The word "utilitarianism" comes from the word "utility", which means "usefulness".[2] In most forms of utilitarianism, things that increase human well-being or happiness are called useful. This is not limited to the happiness caused by a single action but also includes the happiness of all people involved and all future consequences.

Jeremy Bentham was a main utilitarian philosopher of the 18th and 19th centuries

In general, the theory of utilitarianism is that whatever brings the most happiness to the greatest number of people is the right thing to do.


The theory was made popular by 18th and 19th century British philosophers like Francis Hutcheson, Jeremy Bentham, and John Stuart Mill, but the idea goes all the way back to ancient times.

Bentham wrote about this idea with the words "The greatest good for the greatest number," but did not use the word utilitarianism. It was Mill, a follower of Bentham's ideas, who named the idea.

Utilitarianism in PracticeEdit

Many philosophers argue that utilitarianism has important practical implications for how we should live ethically. For instance, according to utilitarianism we should help the poor, prevent animal suffering, and ensure that future generations have good lives.[3]


Maslowism or Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be divided into social and physical needs. Social needs in Maslowism include physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. Maslowist themes like physiology suggests you need food while Maslowist themes like love suggests humans need sex.[4]

Related pagesEdit


  1. "Utilitarianism". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2011.
  2. "Utility". American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 2011.
  3. MacAskill, William (2021). "Acting on Utilitarianism – Utilitarianism.net". Introduction to Utilitarianism: An Online Textbook. Retrieved 2021-05-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. Abramis, David J. "Play in work: childish hedonism or adult enthusiasm?." American Behavioral Scientist 33.3 (1990): 353-373.