util·​i·​tar·​i·​an·​ism (ˌ)yü-ˌti-lə-ˈter-ē-ə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce utilitarianism (audio)
: a doctrine that the useful is the good and that the determining consideration of right conduct should be the usefulness of its consequences
specifically : a theory that the aim of action should be the largest possible balance of pleasure over pain or the greatest happiness of the greatest number
: utilitarian character, spirit, or quality

Examples of utilitarianism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The quant child of Stanford law professors who grew up discussing utilitarianism at the dinner table and blogged during college about the San Francisco Giants, Mr. Bankman-Fried is, in a way, a Michael Lewis character grown in a lab. Christopher Beam, New York Times, 6 Oct. 2023 Kondo’s creed may be born of Shinto precepts, but at its core is a very Western utilitarianism. Coco Krumme, WIRED, 13 Sep. 2023 Crudely put: In utilitarianism, the ends justify the means. Sara Harrison, Discover Magazine, 4 Aug. 2023 In their account, such reasoning was the fruit of utilitarianism and other modern strains of thought; and the whole Catholic moral enterprise, the basis of the Jesuit education and their own callings as priests and professors, was set against such reasoning. Paul Elie, The New Yorker, 27 June 2023 Two key frameworks are utilitarianism and equality of opportunity. Anirban Basu, The Conversation, 26 May 2023 Even if his clothes are expensive to make and to purchase, utilitarianism is a core principle not only for the brand but for the clientele: Mediterranean dandies and thoughtful tech bros, uninterested in flashing their fortunes at a time of market anxiety. Jon Caramanica, Town & Country, 28 Feb. 2023 True utilitarianism requires a careful balancing of all harms and benefits, in the present and the future, with the patience to do this assessment and the patience to refrain from acting if the amount of suffering and death caused by pushing forward wasn’t clear. Christopher Cox, New York Times, 17 Jan. 2023 The fashion scene loves the boyish sensibility of utilitarianism. Alexis Bennett, Vogue, 26 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'utilitarianism.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of utilitarianism was in 1827

Dictionary Entries Near utilitarianism

Cite this Entry

“Utilitarianism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/utilitarianism. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

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