utilitarianism

[yoo-til-i-tair-ee-uh-niz-uhm]
noun
the ethical doctrine that virtue is based on utility, and that conduct should be directed toward promoting the greatest happiness of the greatest number of persons.

Origin:
1820–30; utilitarian + -ism

antiutilitarianism, noun
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World English Dictionary
utilitarianism (juːˌtɪlɪˈtɛərɪəˌnɪzəm)
 
n
1.  the doctrine that the morally correct course of action consists in the greatest good for the greatest number, that is, in maximizing the total benefit resulting, without regard to the distribution of benefits and burdens
2.  the theory that the criterion of virtue is utility

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

utilitarianism definition


A system of ethics according to which the rightness or wrongness of an action should be judged by its consequences. The goal of utilitarian ethics is to promote the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Jeremy Bentham, an English philosopher, was the founder of utilitarianism; John Stuart Mill was its best-known defender.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
One is utilitarianism, the other is categorical morality.
OF the obstacles reformers confront, the toughest may be our mad utilitarianism.
Both advocates and opponents of animal rights also invoke utilitarianism in
  support of their points of view.
Thus, the doctrine of sanctions fails to establish the thesis of utilitarianism
  that general happiness is the rule of right.
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