Religion Past and Present

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(367 words)

[German Version]

Utilitarianism (from Lat. utilis, “useful”) is an ethical theory first formulated at the end of the 18th century by J. Bentham (with precursors in the tradition of empiricist ethics): the moral quality of human actions is determined solely by the extent to which they promote pleasure and lessen pain, thus serving the end of the greatest happiness for the greatest number. Countering suspicions of a crude hedonism, J.S. Mill emphasized the qualitative scale of feelings of pleasure, giv…

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Lohmann, Friedrich, “Utilitarianism”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 06 December 2023 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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