Utilitarianism and the Lonesome Stranger
Utilitarianism is the ethical theory that believes one should do what will promote the greatest utility for as many people as possible, that utility is often considered to be happiness or pleasure. There are different kinds of utilitarian views; hedonistic, preference, rule, and act to name a few, but they all have the same main objective. This theory does indeed seem good at first, but it is flawed. The case of the lonesome stranger challenges utilitarianism by bringing up issues of justice in different kinds of utilitarianism. The lonesome stranger is a persuasive argument to utilitarianism, showing problems pertaining to justice.
The lonesome stranger is hypothetical story about a malicious murder in a town. The Sheriff has discovered beyond a reasonable doubt that the murder is dead. The townspeople want the murder executed, and the sheriff knows that they won't believe the murder is dead. Riots and looting are inevitable, but then walks in a lonesome stranger who tells the sheriff he has no friends or family, and came to the town for no real reason. The sheriff then gets the idea of framing the stranger. If done right, the townspeople would never know, and there would be peace. What would the utilitarian do? There are a few different types of utilitarianism, and they all answer the problem a little differently.
Hedonistic utilitarianism focuses on pleasure as the utility, so hedonistic utilitarianism tries to maximize pleasure and minimize pain for the greatest number of people. So the obvious answer to the problem of the lonesome stranger would be to frame the stranger. The reasoning would be that if you framed a stranger with no family or friends, you only be causing pain for the stranger, yet making the townspeople happy and safer. This scenario would maximize pleasure and minimize pain, but there's something wrong. While I agree it would be a good thing to make the townspeople happier and...
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