Principle of utility
Cartoon version of Jeremy Bentham's version of ‘utilitarianism’ or the principle of utility. [3]
In morality theories, utilitarianism is a type of consequentialist or teleological philosophy or moral guidance system which argues that the consequence to be pursued is the maximization of good or utility, generally referring to the greatest total good for the greatest number. [1]

English jurist and philosopher Jeremy Bentham coined the term ‘utilitarianism’ in his 1789 Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. [2] Bentham, supposedly, viewed the classical theories of Plato and Aristotle and notions such as Immanuel Kant's 1785 "categorical imperative" to be too outdated, confusing, and or controversial to be of much help with modern society's ills and a program of social reform. He adopted what he took to be a simple and 'scientific' approach to the problems of law and morality and grounded his approach in the "Principle of Utility." [3]

Bentham's utility principle was expanded in English political philosopher John Stuart Mill's 1863 book Utilitarianism. [4]

A noted debated quote from an anonymous undergraduate paper concerning the validity of the utility theory of morality is:

“Utilitarianism is wrong because it violates the second law of thermodynamics, and we should not violate the second law.”

Mika LaVaque-Manty comments on this that the format of the presentation of this argument is called a ‘category error’ in the sense that “the laws of thermodynamics are not the sort of things that can be violated, not by us or, insofar as we know, anything else in the universe.” [5] In the correct sense, the student would have been better to argue that the theory of utilitarianism does not meet the Eddington rule, which translates to the effect that it does not hold up against the Clausius inequality in the long run and the Lewis inequality theory of spin cycles in the human sphere of directed or prescribed ‘good’ and ‘bad’ directions of operation.

See also
Negative confessions
Moral symbols
Moral movement

1. Bothamley, Jennifer. (2002). Dictionary of Theories. Visible Ink.
2. Sanders, Karen. (2003). Ethics and Journalism (pg. 19). Sage.
3. Jeremy Bentham – Caae.Phil.Cmu.Edu.
4. (a) Mill, John S. (1861). “Three Articles”, Fraser’s Magazine, date.
(b) Mill, John S. (1863). Utilitarianism. Publisher.
(c) Utilitarianism (book) – Wikipedia.
5. Lavaque-Manty, Mika. (2006). “Nature’s New Constraints? Political Theory and the Life Sciences Boom”, Journal, Winter.

External links
Utilitarianism – Wikipedia.

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