Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1985 May 11;290(6479):1411-3. doi: 10.1136/bmj.290.6479.1411.


KIE: In one of a series of British Medical Journal articles on the philosophical foundations of medical ethics, Gillon outlines the pros and cons of utilitarian theories of ethics, which determine the morality of actions by whether or not they increase happiness or decrease suffering. He counters utilitarian claims to have overcome the disadvantages of deontological theories by pointing out flaws in the coherence, justification, and results of utilitarian arguments, as these arguments are exemplified in the writings of Bentham, Mill, and Hare. He observes that many modern utilitarians have overcome problems with their basic theories by accommodating aspects of deontological thinking.

MeSH terms

  • Ethical Theory*
  • Ethics*
  • Humans
  • Personal Autonomy