Search Dictionary

Definition of 'Utilitarianism'

Utilitarianism is a theory in ethics that determines the rightness or wrongness of an action based on its consequences. The theory was first proposed by Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century, and it has since been developed by a number of philosophers, including John Stuart Mill.

Utilitarianism is based on the principle of utility, which states that the right action is the one that produces the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people. This principle is often expressed in the form of the following equation:

**Utility = Happiness / People**

In other words, the right action is the one that makes the most people as happy as possible.

Utilitarianism is a consequentialist theory, which means that it focuses on the consequences of an action rather than the intentions of the person who performs the action. This is in contrast to deontological theories, which focus on the rightness or wrongness of an action itself, regardless of its consequences.

One of the main criticisms of utilitarianism is that it can lead to morally questionable results. For example, utilitarianism could justify actions that harm a small number of people in order to benefit a larger number of people. This is because utilitarianism only considers the total amount of happiness produced by an action, not the distribution of that happiness.

Another criticism of utilitarianism is that it is difficult to measure happiness. How do we know how happy a person is? And how do we compare the happiness of different people? These are difficult questions that utilitarianism does not provide clear answers to.

Despite these criticisms, utilitarianism remains a popular theory in ethics. It is a powerful tool for thinking about moral problems, and it can help us to make decisions that are in the best interests of everyone involved.

In the context of finance, utilitarianism can be used to make decisions about how to invest money. For example, a utilitarian investor might choose to invest in a company that produces environmentally friendly products, even if the company does not offer the highest return on investment. This is because the utilitarian investor believes that the benefits of producing environmentally friendly products outweigh the benefits of earning a higher return on investment.

Utilitarianism can also be used to make decisions about how to allocate resources. For example, a government might use utilitarianism to decide how to spend its budget. The government could use utilitarianism to determine which programs will provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people.

Utilitarianism is a complex and challenging theory, but it can be a valuable tool for making ethical decisions in finance.

Do you have a trading or investing definition for our dictionary? Click the Create Definition link to add your own definition. You will earn 150 bonus reputation points for each definition that is accepted.

Is this definition wrong? Let us know by posting to the forum and we will correct it.