Digest of terms
the consequentialist view that the rightness of an action is to be judged in terms of its contribution to the greatest happiness of the greatest number. There are many variants. Ideal utilitarianism aims at maximizing an ideal of goodness. Rule utilitarianism advocates rules which maximize happiness, while act utilitarianism emphasizes the importance of judging individual acts, since rules can be insensitive to circumstances (situation ethics). 'Happiness' may be taken to be identical with pleasure, but broader conceptions have also been canvassed. Preference utilitarianism aims at maximizing the satisfaction of as many people's preferences as possible.