Useful Literature

These are some of the books and articles that I have found especially useful or interesting on the topics of hedonism and utilitarianism in general. I have divided the material into two categories. I believe the material in category A to be more interesting or useful than the material in category B (although the latter material is, of course, good to study if you are seriously interested in utilitarianism). If you want to read just one introductory book on utilitarianism, I recommend the one by Shaw or the relevant parts of Graham and Kagan. You can also check out entries in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The famous book Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill I believe should be avoided (as an introductory text).

Category A

  • Ashford, Elizabeth: “Utilitarianism, Integrity, and Partiality”, The Journal of Philosophy, vol. 97.
  • Bailey, James Wood: Utilitarianism, Institutions, and Justice.
  • Bentham, Jeremy: An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. (download)
  • Conly, Sarah: “Utilitarianism and Integrity”, The monist, vol. 66.
  • Narveson, Jan: “Utilitarianism and New Generations”, Mind, vol. 76.
  • Shaw, William H.: Contemporary Ethics: Taking Account of Utilitarianism.
  • Singer, Peter: “Ethics and Intuitions”, The Journal of Ethics, vol. 9.
  • Sprigge, T.L.S.: “A Utilitarian Reply to Dr. McCloskey”, Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy, vol. 8.
  • Visak, Tatjana: Killing Happy Animals: Explorations in Utilitarian Ethics.


Category B

  • Belshaw, Christopher, “What’s Wrong with the Experience Machine?”, European Journal of Philosophy, vol. 22.
  • John Broome: “Utility”, Economics and Philosophy, vol. 7.
  • Krister Bykvist: Utilitarianism: A guide for the perplexed.
  • Robert E. Goodin: Utilitarianism as a Public Philosophy.
  • Graham, Gordon: Eight Theories of Ethics
  • R. M. Hare: Moral Thinking.
  • Hauskeller, Michael: “No Philosophy for Swine: John Stuart Mill on the Quality of Pleasures”, Utilitas, vol. 23.
  • Kagan, Shelly: Normative Ethics.
  • Ng, Yew-Kwang & Ho, Lok Sang (eds.): Happiness and Public Policy. Theory, Case Studies and Implications.
  • Rawls, John: “Two Concepts of Rules”, The Philosophical Review, vol. 64.
  • Scarre, Jeffrey: Utilitarianism.
  • Smart, J.J.C & Williams, Bernard: Utilitarianism – for and against.
  • Tännsjö, Torbjörn: Hedonistic Utilitarianism


Updated Feb. 25, 2017.