Political Utilitarianism as a Framework for Public Policy


  • Saad Malook University of the Punjab Lahore


Political utilitarianism, public policy, negative utilitarianism, moral and political philosophy


This article defends the idea of political utilitarianism as a framework for devising public policies to augment the good and reduce the evil. Although Jeremy Bentham used the expression ‘political utility’ primarily denoting to the abuse of political power, it could be used for devising public policies. I distinguish between political utility and disutility to know how political utility could be employed for making public policies. Political utility means the good, while political disutility means the bad. I argue that political utilitarianism creates two kinds of public policies: The first kind of public policy maximises the good, such as peace and justice. Robert E. Goodin’s account of utilitarianism supports the public policies that enhance the good. The second kind of public policy minimises evil, such as violence and injustice. Karl Popper’s account of negative utilitarianism supports the public policies that minimize evil. So, the article argues that political utilitarianism is an adequate framework for devising public policies that increase the good or reduce the evil.

        Keywords: political utilitarianism, negative utilitarianism, public policy, moral and political philosophy