Utilitarianism is overdue for a flag. Utilitarianism, the view that the sum total of overall happiness should be maximized, has been at the centre of ethical discussion since it was popularized in 1780. It remains among the most influential, inspiring ideas of philosophy. Yet, for too long, utilitarianism has lacked a compelling visual representation. As a normative outlook that unites people regardless of nationality for action and social change, utilitarianism deserves better.
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, in the sense that each individual is included and counts equally in the utilitarian calculus.
The number of stars mirrors the number of points of each star. This reflects the utilitarian ideal that the collective should be treated impartially as if it were one and the same individual. The distinction between individuals lacks moral significance.
Yellow is the colour of happiness. The yellow background, accordingly, represents the hedonistic part of classical utilitarianism: Happiness is the only thing good in itself.
The smile formed by the stars represents the aggregate of happiness. This is what classical utilitarianism seeks to promote. The flag does not feature the smiles of individual stars; it features the smile they form together. This represents the utilitarian tenet that it is our aggregated, collective happiness that matters, not merely the individual happiness of particular people. One counts for one; that’s why two count for more.
The five stars, being the maximal rating in the star classification system, represent the maximizing element of utilitarianism—the duty to do the best one can.
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.
The flag is in the public domain. So download the flag in your format of choice, and hoist the utilitarian banner today!