by Marie Snyder
The season finale of The Last of Us sets up a great deontological v. teleological conundrum with the big question (tiny spoiler), which ends up being an episode-long trolley problem: Is it right to kill one person if doing so could save multitudes?
In a utilitarian view, of course we should sacrifice one person to potentially save all of humanity. It would be absurd not to see this and ensure the safety of all! But it doesn’t pass the categorical imperative sniff test. We can’t support intentional harm coming to people, any people, no matter how few, even if it will help many others.
Kant’s famous rule: “I am never to act otherwise than so that I could also will that my maxim should become a universal law,“ so killing a person to help others is necessarily wrong. It’s not a numbers game since “the moral worth of an action does not lie in the effect expected.” And we have to treat each person as an end in themselves, never as a means to an end.
Or, as the great Mitchell & Webb make clear, killing some to save others is just plain wrong “because it’s offensive and evil.”
And people will do absolutely anything to save the children they love if they turn out to be the sacrificial lambs in question.
Fortunately, the current issues facing us don’t force us to choose. We can help our children and the world at once, so that should be easy, right?!? Unfortunately, our drive to protect our kids is often short sighted. Life is not as cut and dried as a good zombie-like show. We often want our children to be happy today even if it means they end up suffering later. Read more »