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Utilitarian Ethics Definition Essay


The term utilitarian comes from the word utility which means usefulness. According to Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), utilitarianism is based on the observations of human nature, and it is closely related to the belief of what it means to be human. Utilitarian Ethics refers to the principles that approve or disapprove actions. An action is approved if it is right and disapproved if it is wrong. An action is considered right if it can maximize pleasure, produce benefit, and instill happiness. It is an action that minimizes evil, mischief, as well as unhappiness. As stated in Hedonic Calculus, there are two types of utilitarianism namely, act and rule. Act utilitarianism evaluates whether an action is right or wrong as per the prevailing case. On the other hand, rule utilitarianism utilizes utilitarian to evaluate the rightfulness or wrongfulness of a rule, policy, or law.

According to Jeremy Bentham (1781), an action is said to conform to the requirements of utilitarianism ethics or utility if it expands happiness and it has the tendency to diminish harm to the community. Additionally, an action conforms to the principles of utility if it is convenient to the measure of the government and conforms to the laws dictated by a government for the best interest of a community. Moreover, Bentham argues that an action conforms to the principles of utility or utilitarian ethics if when engaged by an individual, it is what should be done and not what ought not to be done. In other words, the actions of an individual are right and consequently, not wrong. Bentham states that the quality of all pleasures and consequently happiness is similar.

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