Ymarsakar: “One of the classic differences between villains and heroes…”

Ymarsakar has a pretty smart observation in the comments of this post that desrves a bit more notice:

One of the classic differences between villains and heroes are that the heroes’ methods are perfectly acceptable when applied against the hero or his enemies. The villains’ methods, however, are only acceptable to the villain when applied against the villain’s enemies. Applied against the villain and suddenly things are no good, purple. Suddenly the villains must be protected from their own methods even though those methods were justified when used against people like Joe or Sarah.

That’s how you can detect the difference ethics and lack of ethics.

This is one of those Rule of Thumb (RoT) things, that seems so obvious when you finally read, that you wish you had thought of it yourself (as I do) as it help crystalize thinking on ethics.

Update: Minor correction.

6 Responses

  1. That’s how you can detect the difference ethics and lack of ethics.

    Might as well make the correction there to “that is how you can detect the difference between ethics and lack of ethics ; )

  2. Btw, it is just a derivation of the Meta-Golden Rule: treat your inferiors the way you would (demand, not expect) your superiors to treat you. By inferior and superior I explicitly mean those with more or less power than you have.

    So if an evil person started killing babies with genetic defects on the justification that he is making it easier for the next generation in terms of a better quality of life, and this person accepts perfectly that those with more power than him can do the same thing to him, then we still have an evil person that simply has a consistent philosophy.

    If a good person went into the past and aborted the evil person as a baby (post-abortion is so much superior to partial birth abortion in such cases) then the good person will have done a good deed and the evil person will still be evil. After all, by the evil person’s own philosophy, we are doing a service to humanity that is necessary in order to get rid of any genes associated with sociopathy or psychosis. The evil person might believe that this is an invalid way of looking at things since the good person would be killing an innocent child that had done no wrong, which is an evil…. act. But only to the good guy, of course. The good guys don’t believe in killing people who “might” end up doing something for even if you go back into the past, there is still free will. Individuals can make different choices. This is different the pre-destination and fated beliefs of, say, the evil guy on children’s genetic defects.

    This is where the ethical dilemma starts up. The evil person wants to keep on killing babies since he sees that as a “Good Thing” ™. However, if we went back into the past and exterminated him or if we just killed him now, that would be a “Bad Thing” ™ to him since his purpose could no longer be fulfilled. If look at the internal consistency of the evil guy’s beliefs, we will detect numerous flaws and contradictions. Even if the evil guy said that we are doing is not consistent by our own ethics, it wouldn’t matter for truth and justice is not found simply by comparing various nation’s laws of justice and practices together. You mean compare one’s nation standard against that same nation’s actual actions concerning that standard. You don’t get anything just or true by mixing up the United Nation’s standards of justice and ethics with America’s and saying that America is bad because it violated the UN’s dictates. Thus an evil person cannot say that the good guys shouldn’t do to the evil person what the evil person has to done to everybody else. The evil person can only rely upon the mercy and justice of people he neither believes in nor respects; think of a con man as he considers his marks.

    The good news is that we don’t have to kill babies to get rid of Mister Evil. We can just kill Mister Evil right now, right here. That would be consistent with our beliefs and perfectly consistent with his, as well, since if a baby grew up with a genetic defect and Mr. Evil found him as an adult, he would still kill him to prevent the adult from procreating, neh?

    So the end results we have are simple after calculating the ethical dilemma through. The good guys will accept being judged and executed on the basis of their actions alone while the evil guy will be unable to accept his own death because if he dies he will no longer be able to serve his purpose. HIs philosophy contradicts itself via the means and methods towards the goal. The goal, his goal, cannot be accomplished because the means he uses to do so are justification for destroying that goal. The method of killing infants in order to purify the human race is just as valid whether you are killing infants with defective genes or murderers with defective consciences. There’s no difference. The philosophy contradicts itself. How are you going to be able to kill all the infants if the people you use to do it will also need to die? You can’t. It’s like a chicken and egg scenario: paradox.

    Another ethical dilemma that is useful to game out would be the Columbine and Virginia Tech murder sprees. You would think that a murderer who kills people and then kills himself would be perfectly consistent with his own ethical principles, right? Nope, not so.

    For one thing, both Columbine and Virginia Tech were “gun free” zones, so the shooters knew that they had an appreciably lower chance of dying before he uses up all his ammo (or the police came). Now if the murderer accepted his own murder as being perfectly consistent with the methods he employed (murder), why did the murderer choose gun free zones? Why did the murderer not give out guns and ammo, leaving them around, hoping for someone to shoot him as he is shooting others?

    See, the murderer only accepted his own death by his own hands. He did not accept his own death by those who had more power than him. He accepted that he had the right to kill people with less power than him but refused to accept that those with more power than him could kill him. A violation of the Meta-Golden Rule. His methods were only acceptable applied against others, never against himself. Killing people who want to live is not the same as killing yourself because you want to die and not be captured by the police. There is a difference in power and free will here.

    A lot of this is also based upon some derivations of the social compact between individuals in a society. We agree not to murder each other because…. we would like not be hunted down and killed by others. We agree not to kill and steal from each other because we would rather live with the rules than against them. And rules must be rules because they apply to everyone, not just people you don’t like.

    Free will, market competition, and so forth are all related to why the Meta-Golden Rule is true. Even in the insane cases of AQ or any other fanatic, it is true. Every example of evil can be processed through this and it will show up.

    Human intuition, however, already knows this somehow. We know killing people and eating their flesh is a Bad Thing ™, but this ethical model actually tells us why it is a bad thing.

  3. The villains’ methods, however, are only acceptable to the villain when applied against the villain’s enemies. The villains’ methods, however, are only acceptable to the villain when applied against the villain’s enemies.

    You got a double quote in there somehow ; )

  4. Blast to the Past, time travel machine powered up.

    Speaking from 6 years in the future, it seems this has kept on going with Hussein’s crazy war schemes in the US, killing as many domestic Americans as foreigners.

    But nobody can judge or restrain the Regime itself, even as the Regime intentionally sets out to destroy humans.

    One of the Ancient methods for virtue practiced by sages is to change oneself, not the world. Because changing the world is just another way to justify enslaving people who don’t agree with you, hence why things are going on as they are in 2014. The presence of wealth and popularity, are all soon to be vices, due to wanting the world to change itself.

  5. An individual will go crazy trying to change the world. Easier to change yourself. Concentrate on what you can to; don’t stress on things outside of your control. Easy for me to say…less easy to always follow. 🙂

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