Consequentialism & UtilitarianismUnder Construction

Utilitarianism is one of a group of theories that maintain that the rightness or wrongness of an action depends on the action's consequences.  What sets utilitarianism apart from other types of consequentialism is that it maintains that we must consider the consequences for everyone (at least all humans, perhaps all sentient beings), whereas other versions of consequentialism restrict the circle of consequences to smaller groups, such as our nation or our family or our fellow believers--or even, in the case of ethical egoism, to me alone.  John Stuart Mill is the foremost representative of this position, and his work continues to exert considerable influence today, especially his Utilitarianism

In the last forty years, the philosopher who has been the most influential advocate of utilitarian thinking is the Austrtalian philosopher Peter Singer,  Beginning with his early book Animal Liberation in 1974, Singer has forcefully advocated not only the reduction of human suffering but also the reduction of animal suffering.  Singer's versino of utilitarianism places heavy burdens on all of us to forgo luxuries so taht the neediest can be cared for and to reduce--perhaps even eliminate--the killing of animals for food, clothing, and sport.  Probably more than any other single philosopher in the last half century, Singer has changed us and our world, bringing the demands of the reduction of suffering to the fore and also providing very concrete ways in which we can more forward toward that goal.