Understanding Utilitarianism

Routledge (2007)
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Abstract

Utilitarianism - a philosophy based on the principle of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people - has been hugely influential over the past two centuries. Beyond ethics or morality, utilitarian assumptions and arguments abound in modern economic and political life, especially in public policy. An understanding of utilitarianism is indeed essential to any understanding of contemporary society. "Understanding Utilitarianism" presents utilitarianism very much as a living tradition. The book begins with a summary of the classical utilitarianism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Subsequent chapters trace the development of the central themes of utilitarian thought over the twentieth century, covering such questions as: What is happiness? Is happiness the only valuable thing? Is utilitarianism about acts or rules or institutions? Is utilitarianism unjust, or implausibly demanding, or impractical? and Where might utilitarianism go in the future?

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Tim Mulgan
University of Auckland

Citations of this work

Intrinsic value and the supervenience principle.Dale Dorsey - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 157 (2):267-285.
Moral Demands and Ethical Theory: The Case of Consequentialism.Attila Tanyi - 2013 - In Barry Dainton & Howard Robinson (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Analytic Philosophy. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 500-527.
How should utilitarians think about the future?Tim Mulgan - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 47 (2-3):290-312.

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