Allais, M. `The foundations of a positive theory of choice involving risk and a criticism of the postulates and axioms of the American school.' In M. Allais and O. Hagen eds. Expected Utility Hypothesis and the Allais Paradox, Dordrecht, Reidel, 1979: 27--145.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Equity and the informational basis of collective choice.' Review of Economic Studies 44: 199--209.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Social welfare functionals and interpersonal comparability.' In K. Arrow, A. Sen and K. Suzumura eds. Handbook of social choice and welfare Vol. 1, Amsterdam: North Holland, 2002: 459--541.

All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional.

(Definition of “utilitarianism” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

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Allais, M. `The foundations of a positive theory of choice involving risk and a criticism of the postulates and axioms of the American school.' In M. Allais and O. Hagen eds. Expected Utility Hypothesis and the Allais Paradox, Dordrecht, Reidel, 1979: 27--145.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Equity and the informational basis of collective choice.' Review of Economic Studies 44: 199--209.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Social welfare functionals and interpersonal comparability.' In K. Arrow, A. Sen and K. Suzumura eds. Handbook of social choice and welfare Vol. 1, Amsterdam: North Holland, 2002: 459--541.

All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional.

Allais, M. `The foundations of a positive theory of choice involving risk and a criticism of the postulates and axioms of the American school.' In M. Allais and O. Hagen eds. Expected Utility Hypothesis and the Allais Paradox, Dordrecht, Reidel, 1979: 27--145.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Equity and the informational basis of collective choice.' Review of Economic Studies 44: 199--209.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Social welfare functionals and interpersonal comparability.' In K. Arrow, A. Sen and K. Suzumura eds. Handbook of social choice and welfare Vol. 1, Amsterdam: North Holland, 2002: 459--541.

Allais, M. `The foundations of a positive theory of choice involving risk and a criticism of the postulates and axioms of the American school.' In M. Allais and O. Hagen eds. Expected Utility Hypothesis and the Allais Paradox, Dordrecht, Reidel, 1979: 27--145.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Equity and the informational basis of collective choice.' Review of Economic Studies 44: 199--209.

d'Aspremont, C. and L. Gevers `Social welfare functionals and interpersonal comparability.' In K. Arrow, A. Sen and K. Suzumura eds. Handbook of social choice and welfare Vol. 1, Amsterdam: North Holland, 2002: 459--541.

All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional.

(Definition of “utilitarianism” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

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Utilitarianism (pronounced yoo-TILL-ih-TARE-ee-en-ism) is one of the main schools of thought in modern ethics (also known as moral philosophy). Utilitarianism holds that what’s ethical (or moral) is whatever maximizes total happiness while minimizing total pain. The word total is important here: if you act ethically according to utilitarianism, you’re not maximizing your happiness, but the total happiness of the whole human race.

Imagine there is a trolley heading toward a group of 5 workers on the tracks. You are sitting in a control center several miles away, and you have a button that can switch the trolley onto another track where there’s only 1 worker. If you flip the switch, one person will die. If you do nothing, 5 people will die. Should you flip the switch?

In surveys, most people in America and Britain say yes. 1 death is better than 5 deaths, so if you have to choose, you should try to minimize the loss of life by flipping the switch. This is an example of utilitarian reasoning, and the survey results show that this school of thought is popular in British and American culture. (In other cultures, people think about the problem differently.)

Utilitarianism with Critical Essays by John Stuart Mill


Utilitarianism - definition of utilitarianism by The Free.

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