utilitarianism. An ethical philosophy in which moral decisions are based on the utility of an action in terms of producing a greater good or benefits to the majority. In this line of thinking, human and nonhuman interests are afforded the same value, but an act harmful to an animal is permissible if the benefit to the human is greater than the cost to the animal. Utilitarianism bears more similarities to animal welfare than to animal rights. See Peter Singer’s work for more on this topic.