With this week’s DVD relax of Star Trek into Darkness, now is a great time to advice or reevaluate the oft-stated Star Trek claim, “The requirements of the many outweigh the needs of the few” (or “the one”). This claim is made in various scenes in the films, including in the recent one. Let’s first consider some instances and the relevant contexts.
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In The Wrath that Khan (1982), Spock says, “Logic plainly dictates the the requirements of the numerous outweigh the needs of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.” This sets up a key scene close to the finish of the film (spoilers follow).
With the Enterprise (ship) in unavoidable danger the destruction, Spock beginning a extremely radioactive chamber in stimulate to deal with the ship’s journey so the crew deserve to escape danger. Spock quickly perishes, and, v his last breaths, says to Kirk, “Don"t grieve, Admiral. The is logical. The demands of the many outweigh . . .” Kirk finishes because that him, “The requirements of the few.” Spock replies, “Or the one.”
In the following film, The search for Spock (1984), the crew of the enterprise discovers the Spock is no actually dead, that his body and also soul make it through separately, and also that it might be possible to rejoin them—which the crew proceeds come do. As soon as restored, Spock asks Kirk why the crew saved him. Kirk answers, “Because the requirements of the one outweigh the needs of the many.” This is, as Spock might say, a fascinating reversal of the post in the ahead film.
How deserve to these concepts be reconciled?
We find response in the following film, The trip Home (1986). At the start of this film, Spock’s mother, who is human being (his father is Vulcan), asks him even if it is he still believes that, through logic, the demands of the countless outweigh the demands of the few. He states yes. She replies, “Then you are here due to the fact that of a mistake—your girlfriend have offered their future to save you.” (The crew had damaged the law and also had gone on the run in order come rescue Spock.) Spock says that human beings are sometimes illogical; his mother answers, “They are, indeed!”
Later in the film, once crewman Chekov is in trouble, Spock insists the the crew save him, also at hazard of dangerous the crew’s critical mission to conserve Earth and also everyone on it. Kirk asks, “Is this the logical thing to do?” Spock answers, “No, however it is the person thing come do.” back Spock reaffirms his insurance claim that the needs of the plenty of logically outweigh the demands of the few, he suggests that occasionally we have to do the “human” thing, not the logical thing, and also put the needs of the couple of (or the one) first.
So Spock, Kirk, and Spock’s mother have affirmed the idea that acting logically and acting “human” have the right to be at odds—and that acting logically method always placing the requirements of the countless first. This is the alleged reconciliation that the supposedly conflicting principles with which us started.
But this logically is no a reconciliation at all.
In logic, (a) there can be no divide in between acting logically and acting human; and also (b) together Ayn rand discovered and also explained, the demands of the individual room what provide rise come the need and possibility of worth judgments to start with.
Our capacity to usage logic, to integrate the evidence of our senses in a noncontradictory way, is part of our rational faculty—the very faculty that makes us human. Obviously, we likewise have the capacity to be illogical, however that is because our reasonable faculty additionally entails volition, the power to select to think or no to think. We also have the volume to endure emotions, which are automatic responses to our experience in relation to our values. (Various other varieties have an emotional volume as well, yet our values room chosen, so also on this score us are considerably different.)
Our emotions, though real and important, space not a means of knowledge; they are automatic reactions to experiences in relation to our value judgments. Our means of knowledge is reason, the usage of observation and also logic.
In regard come the Star Trek example, the factor Kirk was appropriate to aid Spock is no that act so to be “human” as versus “logical”; rather, he was best to help Spock because, offered the immense value that Spock is come Kirk, both as a friend and also as a colleague, and also given that the mission to aid Spock was feasible, helping him was the logical and also thus human being thing to do.
In this case, Kirk’s emotional ties come Spock aligned with his logical review of Spock’s value to him. The is possible for a person’s values to be out of line v his reasonable judgment, but in such cases his rational judgment remains his method of knowledge, and also his emotions have to take a backseat until he reassesses his values and brings them back into line with his logical assessment of the facts.
Once we see the relationship and also potential harmony between reason and emotion, we deserve to see the Spock’s insurance claim that being logical is (or deserve to be) in ~ odds through being human being makes no sense.
What the Spock’s claim, “Logic clearly dictates the the requirements of the countless outweigh the demands of the few”? Logic calls for that some evidence be readily available in assistance of such a claim—but Spock uses no evidence in support of this. He simply asserts it. I beg your pardon “many”? i m sorry “few”? “Outweigh” on whose scale? because that what purpose? To who benefit? Why is his or their benefit the ideal benefit? Spock walk not resolve such questions; he simply asserts the logic plainly dictates his conclusion. Yet it doesn’t.
Far from being an expression of logic, Spock’s claim that the requirements of the countless outweigh the demands of the few is an arbitrary assertion and also a restatement of the baseless moral theory recognized as utilitarianism, i beg your pardon asserts that each individual should act to offer the greatest an excellent for the greatest number. (For a critique that utilitarianism, watch my essay ~ above the moral theory of Sam Harris, TOS, Winter 2012–13.)
How does this principle use in the Star Trek examples? In the case of Kirk’s attention mission to help Spock, Kirk logically concludes that, given the complete context that his values, saving his dear girlfriend is worth the threat involved.
What space we to make, then, the Spock’s last actions in The Wrath of Khan? Does he sacrifice his own life and values in order to offer the requirements of the many? No. Khan, piloting a damaged ship, sets off a maker that will soon cause a huge explosion the will damage his very own ship along with the Enterprise and also its entire crew. Captain Kirk states to his cook engineer, “Scotty, I require warp speed in three minutes or we’re every dead.” it is at this allude that Spock pipeline the bridge, goes to engineering, and also enters a radiation-filled room in bespeak to fix the ship’s warp drive. Together a result of Spock’s actions, the Enterprise speeds away to a safe street from the explosion—but Spock “dies.”
Spock does consider the needs of his friends and also shipmates in making this move. However he does no thereby sacrifice his own values or also his very own life. His only different is come die through the ship anyway. Rather of dying and having every one of his shipmates and also friends dice too, he choose to uphold and protect the worths that he can and to uphold his meeting to serve as a Star Fleet officer—a place that he decided knowing and also accepting the risks involved.
Although in this case Spock should pick the least negative of two negative options, he renders the selection that best serves his interests and also thus his life.
The just principle constant with logic and also thus with humankind is that if we desire to “live long and also prosper” (as Vulcans frequently say) we need to use logic and pursue ours life-serving values. Fortunately, contradictory to Spock’s occasional illogic, this is what he actually does. And also this is why for this reason many civilization love him. It’s only logical.
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