Utilitarianism: The ethical theory, held by such thinkers as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, asserting that moral rightness is determined by what leads to the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Traditional utilitarians identify the greatest good with happiness and define happiness in terms of pleasure and the absence of pain, while “ideal” utilitarians are willing to include other goods other than pleasure in their calculation of benefits. The traditional view is held by many animal rights advocates, who argue that the pleasures and pains of animals have great moral weight (equal to humans, in some cases). Act utilitarians hold that what is morally right is determined by the consequences of particular acts, while rule utilitarians hold that morality is a matter of conforming to rules or principles and that the right set of principles consists of those that would, if followed, lead to the greatest good for the greatest number.1
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
You may also be interested in Dr. John Lennox’s critique of Peter Singer’s Utilitarianism or Dinesh D’Souza’s debate with Peter Singer on morality.