Concept Nest is a Website which aims to share important ideas that arise in philosophy, ethics, rational choice theory, and economics.

These fields often use technical concepts that can be forbidding to learn and master. This website collects simple illustrations and introductory videos, to make these important topics more widely understood.

The author is Toby Handfield, an academic at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.

What is utilitarianism?

Utilitarianism, flavours, varieties, etc.

Utilitarianism is a much discussed moral theory – for good reason. It is simple, it has a compelling rationale, it is inherently egalitarian, it unifies moral thinking in a very elegant way. It also has some very surprising, perhaps shocking, implications in some exotic cases. And this makes it worth discussing also: should we reject an entire theory, just because of some disturbing implications in scenarios that we are never likely to face?

But before getting to those big questions we have some more basic issues to settle. What is utilitarianism? And how can we relate utilitarianism to other approaches to moral philosophy? 

This video is a basic attempt to locate utilitarianism relative to other theories. How does utilitarianism relate to consequentialism? How do different varieties of utilitarianism differ from each other?

The Trolley Problem solved

Utilitarianism and the value of human lives