Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Good of the Many Outweighs the Good of the Few. Or the One.

Ooohhh...bizarre fandom merging with reality question.

I've been reading up/researching for a post on the death penalty and whether or not Christian's can support it. That'll come later. Anyway, while I was thinking about this stuff, I was contemplating...would anyone argue that the preemptive death of certain people would spare the lives of thousands and perhaps millions of others? Or even just a dozen lives, spared by the death of one evil person? Think, Hitler, Mussolini, Nero, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy. All the people dead because of them, alive.

Of course, anyone familiar with scifi then comes up with the problem - but you can't know the entire effects of your actions. Butterfly effect. Step on a bug in the Paleozoic Era, come back to a future where dinosaurs run the Earth. The death of one mass murderer or serial killer could allow someone even worse to rise up, or cause a hero not to be born or develop. Even harder, what if the death of one innocent person could prevent horrors? For to the instance: next week's Supernatural involves one of the angels, Anna *boohiss* going back in time to kill Mary and John Winchester (Dean & Sam's parents) because if they die before Dean and Sam are born, no Apocalypse. (Yes, the angels can travel through time - apparently DeLorean's are Standard Angel Equipment. And yet I'm pretty sure Castiel can't drive a car...)

And yes, that *is* the train of thought my brain took.

*Everything* is relate-able to Supernatural. *EVERYTHING*!

Also StarTrek. But that kind of goes without saying.


  1. LOL everything in my life is related to Battlestar Galactica so I get you.

    Although this post reminds me of Torchwood, and that i need to still watch supernatural.

    Its an interesting thought to ponder though. Utilitarianism in general is fascinating. Do you kill someone to benifit the many. But, will the results of that death leave a better or worse future....hmmmm

  2. LK,

    Ah, fandom. It's everywhere. People don't believe me, but it's true.

    Also, BSG - I love it, but it's not one of my main fandom's, so I tend not to relate everything to it, like I do other things. I am enjoying Caprica though...

    *flails* Torchwood! Oh, how I miss you. Stupid RTD. *holds up Ianto 4 Ever poster*

    I also heartily rec Supernatural. But you really do need to start from the beginning. Anyway...

    It's interesting because it's tempting, should we have the ability and the knowledge - the belief that what we do would save lives - but we have no way of knowing what the consequences will really be.

  3. Interesting stuff! It seems the US military believes wiping out one (ahem) is better than letting him live to kill more. But then we get to where our own troops - sadly - kill thousands more on the ground in the process. :/ So, yeah, butterfly affect indeed. Does this killing of one (plus his eeeeevil sons!) pre-emptively stop the cycle of violence and hard feelings? Sadly, no.

    I'm interested to see where this thought process takes you especially regarding the death penalty.

    I only now saw this post. How did I miss it??

  4. Susanne,

    And I'd actually agree that he needs to die. The problem, really, in this case is that they need not just to kill him, but the *idea* that he represents. And ideas are a lot harder to kill than people. But in this case we're talking about preventing *more* violence.

    Pre-emptive killing would have been someone shooting him in the head before any of this could happen. Would that have prevented everything since? Would it justify killing a (at the time) person who had done nothing 'deserving' of killing? Would it have made things worse? Better? We have no way of actually knowing. A gut reaction is to say 'kill him' and thousands of people live. But we have no way of knowing all the repercussions down through time. The tiniest thing can have the biggest effect.

    I'm not sure if this will take me anywhere with the death penalty. It's merely an interesting sidestep, but since we lack time travel and the foreknowledge necessary to know whether we're really doing a good thing or a bad thing, ultimately, it's sort of a moot point.

  5. Great point about killing the idea and how that is muuuuuuch harder. When a friend asked me if I had enemies, I couldn't think of specific people, but I could think of MANY ideas that are "enemies" to me.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...