As I discussed in my last post, I remember being shocked when the character of Spock — whom I’ve loved since my childhood — was made to say that “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few” in the movie Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. (Still, this is the best of the Star Trek films.)

Why was I shocked? Because logic does not clearly dictate this. It’s a premise, not a conclusion, and so it has nothing to do with logic. As I was saying in my previous post, premises are the “givens” of an argument — logic helps you suss out the ramifications of your premises, but it can’t “dictate” them to you.

So, why don’t I agree with this premise? Because it’s not universally true. In addition, Spock was not operating under this stated premise when he sacrificed himself for his ship and crew. (Sorry for the spoiler, but the movie is like 30 years old or something…) Here is the situation: The Enterprise has been badly damaged and the warp core (think nuclear reactor) will explode within a few minutes. All the normal fixes have been applied, to no avail. Spock decides to enter the warp coil and fix it himself, thus exposing himself to a massive amount of radiation, and he ends up dying.

So, how is this not “the needs of the many…”? Because if the ship exploded, Spock would have died along with everyone else. So, if stepping into the core would fix the problem, he really was not so much sacrificing himself, because otherwise he would be dead anyway. And, since the added notion was that he was the only one that could survive long enough in the radiation to fix it, there was no one else to do the job. Heroic? Sure. But also logical. But not because of that premise!

Is it okay for a gang of thugs to beat you to death so they can take your stuff?

Now, let’s look at a real example of the premise: Is it okay for a gang of thugs to beat you to death so they can take your stuff? I mean, a man needs to eat, so the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few — or the one. I think that most people don’t agree that allowing yourself to be beaten to death (if you can help it) is “logical.”

Are we to be forced into being altruistic?

So, what needs are we required to give up by this “logic”? Let’s say we’re in a lifeboat and everyone is starving. Do we vote for who to eat, like in the Monty Python sketch? Sure, maybe you feel like volunteering, but then again maybe you don’t. Are we to be forced into being altruistic?

lifeboat

Monty Python — Lifeboat sketch

Well, if you don’t think it’s okay to be cannibalized via popular vote, then what? Can we just take people’s stuff? So, the gang doesn’t beat you up or kill you, but they can show up and take your stuff whenever they want? Why not? The “many” has needs too you know!

This is literally “gang rule” — the biggest gang makes the rules.

keegan

Source: http://digitalspyuk.cdnds.net/16/14/1600×800/landscape-1459858342-negan-line-up-the-walking-dead.JPG

This is literally “gang rule” — the biggest gang makes the rules.

Well, what if the gang didn’t even all bother to show up at your house, but instead just sent a couple of guys over? “Hey,” they would say, “we represent Negan, and we’re here to get your food because we don’t have enough. There are eighty of us and only one of you, so give it over — it’s only logical!” If you refused, they would pull out weapons of some sort and try to enforce their will on you.

Of course, this happens to us every day; only the “gang” is the “majority (of people who vote)” and the “couple of guys” they send over is the IRS and/or the Sheriff.

You know, to collect their “fair share.”

 

 

 

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