Also called anti-utilitarian ethics this system of ethics states that given an ethical dilemma whatever choice causes the least amount of suffering for the smallest number of people is the righttm choice. In other words as few people as posible should suffer, and those that must suffer should suffer as little as possible. This is a subtle difference from utilitarianism.

In J. J. C. Smart's essay "An outline of a system of utilitarian ethics", he shows that negative utilitarianism leads to praising actions such as extermination of the human race (since without humans, there would be no pain). In the end, he concedes that minimizing suffering should be a utilitarian's secondary goal, a "subordinate rule of thumb."

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