Definition of Act utilitarianism
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Act utilitarianism Definition from Arts & Humanities Dictionaries & Glossaries
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Act utilitarianism is a utilitarian theory of ethics which states that a person's act is morally right if and only if it produces at least as much happiness as any other act that the person could perform at that time. Classical utilitarians, including Jeremy Bentham, John Stuart Mill, and Henry Sidgwick, define happiness as pleasure and the absence of pain. To understand how act utilitarianism works, compare the consequences of your watching television all day tomorrow to the consequences of your doing charity work tomorrow. You could produce more overall happiness in the world by doing charity work tomorrow than by watching television all day tomorrow. According to act utilitarianism, then, the right thing for you to do tomorrow is to go out and do charity work; it is wrong for you to stay home and watch television all day tomorrow.
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