Are there cultures/societies in which utilitarianism is the norm? Have there ever been major political decisions made on a strictly utilitarian basis, and how did those decisions turn out?

I am referring to [space left blank for OP to modify so as to insert the specification of which utilitarianism they are referring to, e.g. aggregationism vs. satisficence, action- vs. ruled-based, etc.].

  • 1
    It's difficult to know, because major political decisions are rarely taken for the reason they are claimed to be. So although usually policies are proclaimed to be for the greater good (hinting at utilitarianism), its not always the motivation for those pushing those policies. Also since the pushers are usually many, and each of those individuals have their own agenda, it's dubious if it can even be made clear on what grounds a decision was taken.
    – armand
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 8:31
  • 1
    Utility theory, which formalizes utilitarianism in economics (with roots going back to Adam Smith, at least), has been influencing political decision making since its inception. Of course, it presupposes rational decision making, so we cannot expect too much, at best, it only describes what should ideally be done. What is actually done is influenced by many other factors, including what Keynes called "animal instincts". But people do occasionally listen to the voice of reason too.
    – Conifold
    Commented Oct 12, 2022 at 8:44


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