I'm no stranger to the concept of Utilitarianism. People have their opinions and if enough people agree, they become laws. John Stuart Mill, the English philosopher, asserted that Utilitarianism--the greatest good for the greatest number of people--should be our Modus Operandi (mode of operating) in a society. His argument is compelling--there will always be competing interests in a society, especially one as large and diverse as ours; however, if our legislators keep Utilitarianism in mind, they should do all right. The Sherif Problem you proposed to me I found quite interesting; however, I'm still a supporter of Utilitarianism. As I said in an earlier post in this thread, sometimes what's right and what's best are not the same thing. To expand upon that, sometimes there is no definite answer for what's right or for what's best. I can think of two good examples of this. 1) A son and a daughter are brought in front of their mother and she needs to decide which one is to be killed. If she cannot decide, they both will be. What is the right thing to do? No answer, my friend, no answer. This second one I came up with while trying to process the attacks in my head. 2) It's the 11th of September, and a plane is flying kind of low and you're living in the DC area. You heard about what had happened earlier in the day. You can shoot the plane down, and definitely kill everyone inside, or you can leave it alone and it could potentially fly into a building and kill many more people. What do you do?
Originally posted by VictorKaum
I disagree, we are not better off if we killed one innocent. Your argumentation is known as utlitarianism: make a calculation of costs and profits...
Well, if you recalculate things on long term you have a different output. This is in litterature known as the Sheriff problem:
Something terrible happend in a town
The Sheriff has arrested somu suspect.
The people want to hang the suspect while the Sheriff wants to wait for the judge.
Well in the riots that are going to happen, the Sheriff and his deputies have to defend themself to protect the prisoners and they have to kill 10 people by doing that.
You could argue now that the Sheriff has to surrender and let the people kill the suspect...to save 10 innocent. But you can also say that when the Sheriff let the people hang the suspect on the long run all order will be lost, especially when turns out that the suspect was innocent. In the riots that follow 100 people will be killed cause all respect for Sheriff and governement is lost.