Encyclopedia of Sciences and Religions

2013 Edition
| Editors: Anne L. C. Runehov, Lluis Oviedo


  • Joakim Sandberg
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-8265-8_704

Related Terms


Utilitarianism is a moral theory or ethical perspective which judges the morality of actions based on an evaluation of consequences (or effects, outcomes). The good consequences of actions (e.g., that people’s preferences are fulfilled, or that they become happier) are weighed against the bad consequences (e.g., any pain or suffering which the action leads to), and the central ethical obligation is to perform the action whose overall consequences are the best (or most beneficial) in a given situation. By implication, actions are considered morally wrong if there was something else which the agent could have done in the situation which would have produced a better outcome. Being a central form of teleological or consequentialist ethics, utilitarianism is commonly contrasted with deontological ethics – which judges the morality of actions based on their adherence to (most often strict)...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Linguistics & Theory of ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden