The intent, the action and the circumstances behind the action must be morally good for the action itself to be considered moral. For this ethical position, the end does not justify the means.
Utilitarianism is an effort to provide an answer to the practical question “What ought a man to do?” Its answer is that he ought to act so as to produce the best consequences possible.
An action is right if it tends to promote happiness and wrong if it tends to produce the reverse of happiness—not just the happiness of the performer of the action but also that of everyone affected by it. Such a theory is in opposition to egoism, the view that a person should pursue his own self-interest, even at the expense of others, and to any ethical theory that regards some acts or types of acts as right or wrong independently of their consequences. Utilitarianism also differs from ethical theories that make the rightness or wrongness of an act dependent upon the motive of the agent; for, according to the Utilitarian, it is possible for the right thing to be done from a bad motive.
From a program created by Dr Pedersen for the John XXlll College Magis Program