Utilitarianism is the aim of choosing ones actions (be they of individuals or governments) such that the most happiness is achieved for the most people. However, empirical evidence is required to quantify the results of the various possible actions. Also, definitions are required for ‘happiness’ and scales are required to quantify the measures. This was the aim of 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham when considering such things as social policy for punishing criminals.
I suppose what I want to achieve is to gather together empirical data for the cost and implications of different approaches to preventing international violent conflict as well as for conducting international violent conflict, such that the various options can be considered in a measurable way. Utilitarianism is a way of doing this by—at the risk of oversimplification—using the formula:
happiness = pleasure - pain
I am thinking more along the lines of:
peace = positive outcome expected - negative implications
where ‘violent conflict’ is quantified and included with the investment cost to form the ‘negative implications’. Those wanting to start a war must be claiming a positive outcome, so that can be quantified too.
This should help eliminate, or at least help counter, “for our security” and “because they are a threat” and other such woolly thinking from the decision making, at least publicly. It is also more human than my original idea which was purely cost-based.