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Postby Linkara on Fri Mar 16, 2007 7:18 am

On the contrary, sir - always question. ^_~ Most major comic publishers these days seem to have an attitude of "fans should just sit back and enjoy the ride and stop complaining about our decisions." I say fans should be willing to scrutinize anything they wish to and the creators should listen as long as the complaints aren't made in a "you Suxx00rs! mAke hal joooordan's hair graye agan!"

I love the fan response I get out of this comic and I wouldn't have them any other way. ^_^ You guys make me better.
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Postby Wandering Observer on Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:14 pm

I need to watch this forum more, I miss good philosophical conversation. To a certain degree, you remind me of Kant, Louis. Specifically, in his belief that one never really encountered a moral dillema, because it was impossible to reach a point where two morals would ever actually go against one another, similarely to how you believe that for a superpowered human being, there should always be an alternative to killing.

One of Kant's weaknesses, however, is that all of his arguments and evidence was theoretical; his work tends to be a bit distant from reality at times, thus he is able to label women and non-whites as irrational beings.

If you were to be put into a situation like one of the above, Louis, you might change your mind. After all, even if there's always a better way than killing, our minds are still very blind, especially under stress. When the adrenaline is pumping, and you find yourself scared out of your mind for your life and your own, would you try to cap the Joker's leg? What if you miss? Is it worth the life of an innocent hostage worth your value in idealism?

I would suggest that you be very careful here, as superheroes provide an excuse to forget that people are still poeple, and that no one can be the ideal. Also, Keep in mind that the Punisher never actually posessed any superpowers, so how can you hold him to higher standards?

Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that all humans are capable of error. In any violent scenario, especially those with hostages and criminals willing to use lethal force, accidents happen. Unfortunately, within our current application of weaponry, within our current military tactics, it is impossible to guarantee the lives of those we're fighting.

I caution, because there is indeed a method of fighting battles without killing, but it is a road you already do not wish to take. That road, of course, is pacifism. One cannot have violence without death; there has never been any exception to that rule, not within wars, not within law protection. Unless one can change everything about the way we fight crime, the sniper has no alternative than a headshot.
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Postby Linkara on Tue Mar 20, 2007 12:20 am

I rely on theory because I lack that experience. ^_~

I do think you're right that I forgot about pointing out that human beings are capable of error (I was thinking it, I think I just forgot to write it) and are still perfectly capable of accidentally killing the criminals or even the hostages. I hold the Punisher to the law enforcement agency that needs to nail his ass to the wall for being a dangerous, murdering vigilante who will only make himself a worthy ally in Marvel Zombies vs. Army of Darkness. ^_~

I ask the question of why can't someone be the ideal? Sure, they're not perfect in everday life, but why can't they try to live their life to the ideal and accomplish it to the best of their ability? This question actually does relate to the answer for sun tzu that I came up with.

However, I've got an ethical tickler for you that had me thinking for the (someday) future Lightbringer graphic novel I want to do: is it murder to kill someone infected with the Marvel Zombies zombie plague? Sure, normal zombies are just the undead, but the Marvel Zombies still have intelligence (but their normal ethical standards have been subverted in order to satiate their inhuman cravings for flesh).
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Mar 20, 2007 4:10 am

I hqven't reqd Marvel Zombies, but I would say that sentience is infinitely more important, ethically speaking, than wether one is "clinically" dead.
I don't think of the average fictionnal vampire as dead. "You can think, no? You can feel, no? So what does it matter if you breath or not? You're alive as far as it matters."

I admit, you have legitimate reasonings and I like I said, I can forsee a situation where it might happen, but it still feels essentially like the Watchmen dilemma of whether you have to kill a few to save many, and I just don't agree with it.

Hm. Let me put it to you this way:
Suppose that through some plot-induced coincidence, I discovered there was some super-weapon (let's say it's one of a kind and not replicable) in Monaco. It was aimed at Japan, and was going to completely destroy it in 60 seconds. I had a way of disabling the weapon from where I was, but that would cause it to self-destruct, taking Monaco with it.
Now, I don't live in either Monaco or Japan, nor do I know anyone who does, so personnal considerations don't weigh in here.
But. I know that Japan's population is bigger than Monaco's by several orders of magnitude (without getting into their relative importance to world economy or popular culture).
So, if I wouldn't press the button and blow Monaco to kingdom come, let me assure you that it wouldn't be out of moral considerations, but out of cowardice and personnal weakness. Assuming I had the required strength of character? Monaco goes bye-bye. Because if I didn't kill a given number of people to save a much, much greater number of people, I'd consider myself criminally negligent.
It's awful, but it's true. The lesser evil can be pretty horrible. The universe never signed any agreement to give us a nice way out.
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Postby Linkara on Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:36 am

And as I've said before, a smart man can come up with a scenario in which you're forced to make a decision like that. ^_~ Yeah, in the actual situation, I'd either refuse to choose out of moral consideration to refuse to take action that would result in deaths or I would try to save the greatest number of people and subsequently exile myself for my own personal pennance over such a choice.
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:45 am

Linkara wrote:And as I've said before, a smart man can come up with a scenario in which you're forced to make a decision like that. ^_~

Does that make it any less valid? Hypothetical situations are an important part of figuring stuff out.

Yeah, in the actual situation, I'd either refuse to choose out of moral consideration to refuse to take action that would result in deaths

Murder of a hundred people through inaction is better than murder of one person through direct action?

or I would try to save the greatest number of people and subsequently exile myself for my own personal pennance over such a choice.

Hm...Why?
Either something is the best course of action available to you, or it isn't. If you know it's the best you can do and choose to do it, why punish yourself? :-?
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Postby Linkara on Tue Mar 20, 2007 2:16 pm

It's not "Better" per se. Both choices suck. However, the difference between the choices is the amount of lives lost. The "best" course of action in this situation is not truly known because I don't have as much information as I need to make the best decision nor is the best decision truly available here because it's limited to two choices, action or inaction. In this case, action is the appropriate course of action because of a qualification of more human life over less human life and at that moment in time I might choose that one but I'd still punish myself for it because I should never be in a position that forces me to make such a choice. I could just as easily decide that the ethics of deliberately killing someone are more important than their very lives and therefore punish myself for letting people die. It's really a no-win scenario, but I'd like to think that if I should ever be maneuevered into a situation where it happened I'd find a way around it, but the conditions of the test as presented to me don't allow for it at the moment.
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Postby Wandering Observer on Tue Mar 20, 2007 5:26 pm

Keep in mind, that when striving for the ideal, that we do not live ideal lives. Except for specific individuals within certain religions, there has not ever been an example of a perfect human being.
While it is good to seek the ideal, one must always remember that one is fighting a losing battle, if one seeks to live a perfectly ideal life. In theory, one would find all the information relevant to a desision beore one made it, then proceeded to meditate and way each option equally beore deciding on the best course of action. There are a slim few desisions in which this kind of desision making is available.
For the majority of the decisions any human being makes, all one can do is analyze the data that they have been given, then make their decision based on said data, then act out said decision as best they can. One must always seek reflection and analysis to find the best options, but even then, there is rarely an obvious best solution.
I wonder, Louis, why we must condemn ourselves for making the best possible choice at the moment, even if it might not have been the perfect choice. After all, I don't remember being guaranteed that there always would be a perfect choice. In fact, what I've always been told is quite the opposite.


A lack of experience is one of the worst possible problems a writer can experience. Some of the greatest villians in all of creative writing act with wonderful intelligence and critical thinking, but lack the wisdom needed for a strong foundation. For the writer, personal experience is the best ammunition you can have. If you truly with to continue down the literary path, than you must open yourself to as many different expereinces as possible. The more you experience pleasure, pain, comedy and suffering in your own life, the more your writing will live as well.
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Postby Linkara on Tue Mar 20, 2007 9:12 pm

Why is it fighting a losing battle to seek the ideal? Sure, we may not live ideal lives, but striving for it isn't a road that necessary leads to downfall.

As for condemning ourselves for making the best possible choice, I'm not saying it's for everyone. It's what I would do, because the best possible choice may still not be an ethical one I don't want to try to justify to myself unethical behavior. It might be different for other people, but it's what's right to me.
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Postby Sun tzu on Tue Mar 20, 2007 11:48 pm

It's not "Better" per se. Both choices suck.

Excuse me? One choice leads to a local disaster, the other leads to a wide-scale genocide. One is definitely better. That both have terrible consequences doesn't prevent one from being better than the other.



In this case, action is the appropriate course of action because of a qualification of more human life over less human life and at that moment in time I might choose that one but I'd still punish myself for it because I should never be in a position that forces me to make such a choice.

...So you'd punish yourself for being in such a situation? Unfair, IMO.

As for condemning ourselves for making the best possible choice, I'm not saying it's for everyone. It's what I would do, because the best possible choice may still not be an ethical one I don't want to try to justify to myself unethical behavior.

Ethics, as far as I can tell, are about making the right choices. Ethics aren't about "Being at the right place and the right time so as to never be in a no-win situation", but about "Making the best choice in whichever situation you end up in". So, unless I'm missing something, the "best possible choice" is the ethical one. Yes, even if it involves blowing up a city.
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Postby Linkara on Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:10 am

The way you presented it, both choices result in people dying, the difference being the quantity of people dying. If that's the case, then yes, both choices suck because both force me to kill people, be it through action or inaction.

Unfair, perhaps, but that's life for you.

Actually, ethics are moral principles, i.e. what principles are good and what principles are evil (or right and wrong, depending on your flavor for the terms). The best possible choice is not necessarily the ethical one. Sure, they're not about "Being in the right place and the right time so as to never be in a no-win situation," but that doesn't mean the situation won't come up where one has to make an ethical choice over a practical choice or where one is unable to make an ethical choice because both options are unethical (ergo the Kingdom Come choice - stop a bomb that will murder metahumans in cold blood but protect humanity from their onslaught, or let the bomb drop and protect humanity but murder in cold blood).
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:33 am

...If you don't consider the "ethical" choice to be "the best possible choice"...Then I don't think I understand your definition of "ethical". :-?
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Postby Linkara on Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:03 am

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ethics

This one has a nice definition of ethics. Again, ethics relate to MORALITY, not to practical or pragmatic choices.
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Postby Sun tzu on Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:12 am

...Sorry, I still don't get it.
I don't think of blowing up the village to save the nation as the "practical" choice. I think of it as the moral, non-evil choice - as opposed to letting millions die. This isn't my pragmatism talking; it's my morality.
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Postby Linkara on Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:25 am

Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on this one unless Wandering Observer or any other forumer wishes to throw in with something new on it. ^^
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Postby Wandering Observer on Wed Mar 21, 2007 5:35 pm

Oh dear, it seems there's a spotlight on me.

I think I might see where the problem within this discourse lies. Sun Tzu sees a different definition of "best" than Linkara does. Tzu naturally equates the term "better," with more moral, whereas Linkara equates it with more pragmatically beneficial. Simply speaking, Sun Tzu sees better and more ethical as the same terms, while Linkara sees them as different. Personally, I like Tzu's terminology better, since this is an ethical argument to begin with, and I'd assume that the "best" course of action to be the most moral by default.

As for the terminology of the word "Ethics," we need to think of ethics not as just making the right choices, but the art of understanding why these choices are right.

So, from now on, I'd like us to assume this to be an ethical argument, thus we will judge concepts based on how ethical they are. As such, for all intents and purposes, better = more ethical. Pragmatically better will still be pragmatically better.

One is fighting a losing battle when seeking the ideal, because any goal that one wishes to have should be achievable. If your goals are not achievable, then they are not goals, they are delusions. If you choose to follow an unachievable goal, it throws off your definition of success. One cannot be a professional writer if one does not make a profit off of the books he publishes; one cannot finish a marathon by running 20 miles. As such, one cannot meet one's own expectations of being moral, if one expects to be perfect. It is good to try to be perfect, but it is not good to expect perfection of yourself. As such, I don't beat my dog because she cannot fly.

Personally, I'd blow up Monaco. I'd hate to kill all of the people that live there, but I'd hate myself much more if a far greater population were to die. Does this mean that Japan is worth more than Monaco? From an economic, political and military perspective, yes. Does this mean that the PEOPLE of Monaco are worth less than the PEOPLE of Japan? Not in the least. But if I lived in Monaco, I wouldn't want my life to be the rationale for many more deaths, several economic collapses, and a great suffering that I could have prevented.
If you put me in front of that lever, I would pull it after I was sure I had to. I would morn the loss of Monaco, but I would know that I did the right thing, because even though I my actions still did harm, I did the best job that I was able to do, and there is never shame in that.
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Postby Wandering Observer on Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:15 pm

Oh dear, it would seem that my attempt to restart this topic has accidentally killed it.

*sighs*

I seem to have a habit for this...
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Postby Linkara on Thu Mar 22, 2007 10:23 pm

Nonsense! I just didn't feel like doing philosophy today. ^_~

Why is the ideal unachievable? Sure, certain things are highly improbable (I always hesitate to say "impossible" since I don't really believe anything is impossible), like breaking the laws of physics, but why is the ideal considered to be unattainable and therefore more on the side of delusion than goal? The examples you listed are correct, of course, because by definition they are not accomplishing what they are seeking, but I don't see those as "ideals" as much as ignorance about how things actually work. And some could say that my wanting an ideal version of a person who never kills is ignorant of how the world works, yet I know that there are cops who go their entire careers without ever brandishing their weapon and there are people who've never killed anyone in their life and yet have somehow stopped a criminal.
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Postby Sun tzu on Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:31 am

Linkara wrote:Nonsense! I just didn't feel like doing philosophy today. ^_~

Why is the ideal unachievable? Sure, certain things are highly improbable (I always hesitate to say "impossible" since I don't really believe anything is impossible), like breaking the laws of physics, but why is the ideal considered to be unattainable and therefore more on the side of delusion than goal? The examples you listed are correct, of course, because by definition they are not accomplishing what they are seeking, but I don't see those as "ideals" as much as ignorance about how things actually work. And some could say that my wanting an ideal version of a person who never kills is ignorant of how the world works, yet I know that there are cops who go their entire careers without ever brandishing their weapon and there are people who've never killed anyone in their life and yet have somehow stopped a criminal.

But, since we've established that there can be situations where they should kill, then such perfect track records would have to be based on luck (that is, never walking into this kind of no-win situation) rather than a personal, ethical decision to abide by a no-killing code.
It's not exactly a moral achievement to quit doing drugs if you're stuck on a desert island that doesn't have any, to use a (poor) analogy.
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Postby Wandering Observer on Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:15 am

the only reason I say that no human can ever acheive a perfect moral standard is because, save religion, no human being ever has. If you can prove me wrong, then by all means. But somehow I don't believe that humanity and perfection can coexist within the same form.
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