Mary is poor and has two children she needs to feed.  Assume Mary is forced to let her children go hungry or steal food from a grocery store.  Which should she do? I need to construct an argument that supports Mary's decission to steal food or one that shows why she should not steal the food. It should be at least 150 words if possible and is for a Philosophy 103 class. Thanks in advance.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Perhaps the best way to support the decision to steal food is to use utilitarian philosophy.  Utilitarianism holds that people should act in ways that bring the greatest amount of happiness to the greatest number of people.  Put differently, when faced with a problem, you have to ask which course of action would do more to increase overall happiness in your society or your community.

From this point of view, Mary should steal.  The amount of happiness that she and her children would gain would be quite large indeed.  Her children would stop being hungry and she would no longer have to suffer emotionally because of their hunger.  In addition, there is very little unhappiness that will result from her theft.  Presumably the grocery store from which she steals will not be hurt a great deal by her theft.  The harm to it will surely be less than the benefit to her.

In this way, you can use utilitarianism to justify theft in this case.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team