Utilitarianism In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

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Utilitarianism is a normative philosophy of ethics that has been around since the late eighteenth century. It earliest proponents were Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. The general idea of utilitarianism is that there is no morality measurement except results. So, when one is deciding how to act, the only thing that matters is what the results of the actions are. Utilitarianism says that the actions that cause the most happiness and the least amount of unhappiness or pain are the moral acts. It does not rely on a higher power to determine what right or wrong but rather it relies on actual outcomes is. Utilitarianism also opposes egoism, or the pursuit of self-interest. Utilitarianism says that one should not consider just one’s self when …show more content…
If bringing happiness to some people means trampling on someone else’s rights, even evil or undeserving people’s rights, then it is not a good moral practice. Short stories that illustrate this point of view include Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” in which a town draws the name of a person periodically that they will then stone to death in order to honor tradition. So far, presumably, the town has not had any problems and they attribute it to their ritual of stoning a person to death, so they continue to do it even though each one of them knows the next time they run the lottery, it could be a loved one or themselves who is killed. Another short story is Ursula LeGuin’s “The Ones who walk Away from Omelas.” In this story, there is a person who is kept captive in chains and who suffers pain and anguish just so the rest of the inhabitants of Omelas will be happy. The people of Omelas are happy, but some do not feel right about the arrangement and choose to leave. The premise in both stories is that no one person should suffer pain undeservedly so that others can experience happiness. The Utilitarian philosophy has a difficult time reconciling this concept given its basis of maximum happiness for the

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