Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is the philosophy that argues that moral worth is found in the consequences of actions (act utilitarianism) or, for others, the following of the proper rules (rule utilitarianism). John Stuart Mill defines utilitarianism as being those "actions [that are] right as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness." In this respect, happiness is the same as pleasure or the absence of pain. However, this is not a selfish or hedonistic happiness. The pleasures we are to seek, the pleasures that are most "right" in a utilitarian sense, are those that reside in our highest faculties, those that maximize the overall good for the greatest number. These pleasures are to be about each man developing his powers to their complete whole. Happiness, in the utilitarian sense, is described as a first principle, one for which there is no proof. Since it cannot be objectively proved that happiness is a first principle, we must, as a society, agree upon this instead.