A Flag for Utilitarianism

The Utilitarian Flag

Utilitarianism is overdue for a flag. Utilitarianism, the view that the sum total of happiness should be maximized, has been at the centre of ethical debate since 1780. It remains among the most inspiring ideas of philosophy. Yet, for too long, utilitarianism has lacked a compelling visual form. As a normative outlook that unites people regardless of nationality for action and social change, utilitarianism deserves better.

Symbolism

The utilitarian flag seeks to represent, with simple iconic symbolism, the most distinctive elements of utilitarianism: inclusiveness, impartiality, hedonism, aggregation, and maximization.

The five-pointed stars represent individuals: Everybody is a star. That is, everybody is fully included in the utilitarian calculus.

The stars, in number, equal the points of each star. This represents the impartial ideal of treating the collective as if it were one individual. The separateness of persons lacks moral significance.

The field is yellow—the colour of happiness. It represents the hedonistic part of utilitarianism: Happiness is the only thing good in itself.

The stars form a smile together, rather than on their own. This represents that it’s our aggregated, collective happiness that matters, not just the singular happiness of individuals. One counts for one. That’s why more count for more.

Lastly, the five stars, being the maximal rating, represent the maximizing element of utilitarianism—that is, our duty to do the best we can.

Specification

The stars are pure white, and the background is NCS yellow (S 1080-Y10R), PMS 7409 C (coated paper), or PMS 7405 U (uncoated).

Taking the height of the flag as our unit, the flag is two units wide. Five five-pointed stars, each with one point pointing straight up, are spread out with their centres 2 π / 15 radians apart along an arc consisting of the lower third of a circle with a radius of 2 π / (1 + 2 π) units and its centre above the middle star. The stars have a radius of 3 / (2 π²) units. The arc is aligned vertically so that the distance from the top edge of the top stars to the top of the flag is the same as the distance from bottom edge of the bottom star to the bottom of the flag. The arc is aligned horizontally so that the the centre of the middle star is equally far off from the left and right edges of the flag.

Join the Cause

The utilitarian flag is in the public domain. So download the flag in your format of choice, and hoist the utilitarian banner today!

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