Cats — really aren’t utilitarian… but, they’re funny… so — there ya go…
For utilitarianism, you need to consider ALL of the impacts of the action. You add them up (pluses and minuses) and then do the thing which gives you the most overall increase in happiness… sounds simple, no?
It may NOT be the thing that benefits the largest number of people …. if a thing is a huge benefit to a small group of people, and the alternative gives a very small benefit to a larger number of people, you should do the thing that’s the huge benefit..
Perhaps same-sex marriage is a good example.
The number of same-sex couples getting married is relatively small compared to the hetero population — BUT getting married is very important to them. I don’t think I need to make the overall case here, y’all get the gist.
The harm to same-sex marriage is very small, if any at all — (frankly, I can’t think of one — but, pretend for a minute..). So — you have people who are helped a lot — vs. a small harm to others — if the good outweighs the bad, it should be done.
The tricky part about utilitarianism is knowing who will be impacted and how…
The other tricky part is that you’ll try to do something good, and other circumstances could end up to make it not the best thing..