Utilitarians are not purely self-interested at all unlike ethical egoists. Rather, utilitarians care about everybody. Their motto is “the greatest good for the greatest number.” They usually think of the good as pleasure and what is bad as pain, although other utilitarians think of good as preference-satisfaction and bad as preference-frustration. The idea is to aim for the most good and the least bad overall, adding together what is good and subtracting units of bad. That is, if we think of different “future paths” we could choose, which one brings the best outcomes, consequences or results? Act utilitarians aim for the best consequences or maximum good in every action. Rule utilitarians try to justify rules we should live by, such as not killing, stealing, etc., rather than trying to guess the greatest good for every action, because otherwise people might be unable to decide, or might be biased in favour of what they desire.


  1. What are some possible reasons in favour of adopting utilitarianism as a guide to peace and conflict?

  2. What are some possible reasons against adopting utilitarianism as a guide to peace and conflict?

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