Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Terminology Tuesday: Utilitarianism

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

1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 119.


  1. Ex N1hilo August 31, 2010

    Seems Mr. Spock was a utilitarian: "Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

  2. Brian August 31, 2010

    "…or the one."

  3. Davitor August 31, 2010

    Wonderful topic, please continue in your quest to find that all that comes from God is the greatest good in spite of of how we perceive it in our temporary state.

  4. Ex N1hilo August 31, 2010


    If I recall correctly, I believe it was Kirk who added "or the one" in reference to Spock's sacrificing himself for the good of the ship and its crew.

    Wrath of Khan was the high point of the Star Trek movies. I didn't care for the most recent one. While it was a pleasure to visit with the old characters and the effects were good, the film really had no plot.

  5. Brian August 31, 2010

    You simply can't beat Wrath of Khan… the best of all Star Treks hands down, in my opinion.

  6. Drew October 15, 2013

    Notice that Utilitarianism is an absolutist view of morality. Nobody can be both a Utilitarian and a relativist.