With this week’s DVD release of Star Trek right into Darkness, currently is a an excellent time to evaluate or reevaluate the oft-stated Star Trek claim, “The requirements of the countless outweigh the requirements of the few” (or “the one”). This claim is do in various scenes in the films, consisting of in the latest one. Let’s first consider some instances and the pertinent contexts.
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In The Wrath the Khan (1982), Spock says, “Logic clearly dictates that the demands of the countless outweigh the demands of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.” This sets up a pivotal scene close to the end of the movie (spoilers follow).
With the Enterprise (ship) in unavoidable danger that destruction, Spock start a very radioactive chamber in stimulate to deal with the ship’s drive so the crew deserve to escape danger. Spock quickly perishes, and, through his final breaths, states to Kirk, “Don"t grieve, Admiral. That is logical. The needs 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 that the enterprise discovers the Spock is not actually dead, the his body and soul make it through separately, and that it might be feasible to rejoin them—which the crew proceeds come do. As soon as restored, Spock asks Kirk why the crew conserved him. Kirk answers, “Because the needs of the one outweigh the requirements of the many.” This is, together Spock can say, a fascinating reversal that the article in the previous film.
How have the right to these ideas be reconciled?
We find an answer in the next film, The voyage Home (1986). At the beginning of this film, Spock’s mother, who is person (his father is Vulcan), asks him whether he quiet believes that, by logic, the requirements of the countless outweigh the requirements of the few. He says yes. She replies, “Then you are here because of a mistake—your friends have given their future to conserve you.” (The crew had damaged the law and also had gone on the run in order come rescue Spock.) Spock says that humans are periodically illogical; his mommy answers, “They are, indeed!”
Later in the film, as soon as crewman Chekov is in trouble, Spock insists the the crew conserve him, even at threat of jeopardizing the crew’s vital mission to conserve Earth and also everyone on it. Kirk asks, “Is this the logical thing to do?” Spock answers, “No, yet it is the human thing come do.” although Spock reaffirms his claim that the requirements of the plenty of logically outweigh the requirements of the few, he argues that periodically we should do the “human” thing, not the logical thing, and also put the requirements of the few (or the one) first.
So Spock, Kirk, and also Spock’s mother have affirmed the idea the acting logically and acting “human” have the right to be in ~ odds—and the acting logically means always placing the requirements of the plenty of first. This is the alleged reconciliation the the apparently conflicting concepts with which we started.
But this logically is no a reconciliation in ~ all.
In logic, (a) there deserve to be no divide in between acting logically and also acting human; and (b) together Ayn rand discovered and explained, the demands of the individual room what offer rise come the need and also possibility of worth judgments to begin with.
Our volume to use logic, to integrate the proof of our senses in a noncontradictory way, is part of our reasonable faculty—the really faculty that makes us human. Obviously, we likewise have the capacity to it is in illogical, yet that is since our reasonable faculty additionally entails volition, the strength to pick to think or no to think. We likewise have the capacity to experience emotions, which room automatic responses come our experience in relationship to our values. (Various other varieties have an emotional volume as well, yet our values are chosen, so even on this score we are dramatically different.)
Our emotions, though real and also important, space not a method of knowledge; they are automatic reaction to experience in relationship to our value judgments. Our way of knowledge is reason, the use of observation and logic.
In regard come the Star Trek example, the reason Kirk was ideal to aid Spock is no that act so to be “human” as versus “logical”; rather, he was right to help Spock because, offered the enormous value the Spock is come Kirk, both as a friend and also as a colleague, and also given that the mission to aid Spock to be feasible, help him was the logical and also thus person thing to do.
In this case, Kirk’s emotional ties to Spock aligned through his logical testimonial of Spock’s value to him. It is possible for a person’s worths to be out of line through his rational judgment, however in such cases his reasonable judgment remains his way of knowledge, and also his emotions need to take a backseat till he reassesses his values and brings them earlier into line with his logical assessment of the facts.
Once we view the relationship and potential harmony between reason and also emotion, we deserve to see that Spock’s case that being logical is (or have the right to be) at odds v being human being makes no sense.
What of Spock’s claim, “Logic plainly dictates the the requirements of the numerous outweigh the requirements of the few”? Logic needs that some proof be available in assistance of together a claim—but Spock provides no evidence in assistance of this. He just asserts it. Which “many”? which “few”? “Outweigh” on who scale? because that what purpose? To who benefit? Why is his or their benefit the suitable benefit? Spock does not deal with such questions; he simply asserts that logic clearly dictates his conclusion. But it doesn’t.
Far from being an expression the logic, Spock’s case that the needs of the many outweigh the requirements of the couple of is an arbitrarily assertion and also a restatement of the baseless moral theory recognized as utilitarianism, i beg your pardon asserts that each individual should act to serve the greatest great for the best number. (For a critique the utilitarianism, watch my essay on the moral theory of Sam Harris, TOS, Winter 2012–13.)
How does this principle use in the Star Trek examples? In the situation of Kirk’s attention mission to help Spock, Kirk logically concludes that, given the complete context the his values, saving his dear girlfriend is worth the threat involved.
What space we come make, then, of Spock’s final actions in The Wrath that Khan? Does the sacrifice his own life and also values in stimulate to offer the needs of the many? No. Khan, piloting a damaged ship, sets off a device that will certainly soon cause a huge explosion the will damage his very own ship along with the Enterprise and its whole crew. Captain Kirk states to his cook engineer, “Scotty, I require warp rate in three minutes or we’re every dead.” that is at this point that Spock pipeline the bridge, goes to engineering, and enters a radiation-filled room in stimulate to repair the ship’s warp drive. Together a an outcome of Spock’s actions, the Enterprise speeds far to a safe distance from the explosion—but Spock “dies.”
Spock does take into consideration the requirements of his friends and shipmates in do this move. Yet he does no thereby sacrifice his very own values or also his own life. His only alternative is come die with the ship anyway. Instead of dying and having all of his shipmates and also friends die too, he chooses to uphold and also protect the values that he can and also to uphold his commitment to offer as a Star Fleet officer—a place that he decided knowing and accepting the dangers involved.
Although in this case Spock have to pick the least negative of two negative options, he renders the choice that best serves his interests and thus his life.
The just principle continuous with logic and also thus with humankind is that if we want to “live long and prosper” (as Vulcans regularly say) we should use logic and also pursue our life-serving values. Fortunately, contradictory to Spock’s occasional illogic, this is what he actually does. And this is why therefore many human being love him. It’s only logical.
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