Mary is poor. She has not been able to find a job and has two children she needs to feed. Assume Mary is forced to let her children go hungry or steal some food from a local grocery store. Which should she do? Construct an argument that supports Mary's decision to steal the food or an argument that shows why Mary should not steal the food. Do not assume that Mary lives in a country that has social aid and help from other religious and secular organizations. She must either steal and feed her children or not steal and let them go hungry. Provide your reasons that justify either one of these positions.
I would argue that, in this case, Mary should steal. I would say that we can make this case from a utilitarian point of view.
From a utilitarian point of view, an action is right if it brings a net increase in happiness when compared to its alternative. In this case, that means that it is right for Mary to steal if her stealing will result in greater overall happiness than would exist if she did not steal. I would argue that this is clearly the case.
If Mary steals, her children will not go hungry. They will be much happier than they would be if she did not steal. Mary herself will be much happier because she will not have to go through the emotional anguish of seeing her children going hungry. By contrast, there will be very little loss of happiness on anyone’s part if Mary steals. It is true that the storeowner will be unhappy. However, the unhappiness connected to the loss of that amount of food will pale in comparison to the happiness experienced by Mary and her children.
Therefore, from a utilitarian point of view, we can argue that Mary should steal the food.