Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism, the theory which makes happiness the end of life and the test of virtue, and maintains that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, and wrong as they tend to produce the reverse,” a theory characterised by Carlyle, who is never weary of denouncing it, as “reducing the infinite celestial soul of man to a kind of hay-balance for weighing hay and thistles on, pleasures and pains on.” The great apostle of this theory was John Stuart Mill, and the great father of it Jeremy Bentham.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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