Utilitarianism

Definition

Utilitarianism is a philosophy founded by Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and then extended by other thinkers, notably John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). Utilitarianism involves the greatest happiness principle, which holds that a law or action is good if it promotes the greatest happiness of the greatest number, happiness being defined as the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain.

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Timeline

  • 1726
    Francis Hutcheson coins the term "the greatest happiness of the greatest number" in his Inquiry Concerning Moral Good and Evil.
  • 1748 - 1832
    Life of the English philosopher and founder of utilitarianism Jeremy Bentham.
  • 1789
    Jeremy Bentham publishes his thoughts on utilitarianism in his Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation.
  • 1859
    John Stuart Mill publishes his On Liberty.
  • 1863
    John Stuart Mill publishes his Utilitarianism.
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