With this week’s DVD release of Star Trek into Darkness, currently is a great time to advice or reevaluate the oft-stated Star Trek claim, “The needs of the numerous outweigh the demands of the few” (or “the one”). This claim is made in assorted scenes in the films, consisting of in the latest one. Let’s an initial consider some instances and the relevant contexts.
You are watching: Spock quote the needs of the many
In The Wrath of Khan (1982), Spock says, “Logic plainly dictates the the requirements of the numerous outweigh the demands of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.” This sets up a key scene close to the finish of the movie (spoilers follow).
With the Enterprise (ship) in impending danger that destruction, Spock enters a extremely radioactive room in stimulate to resolve the ship’s drive so the crew deserve to escape danger. Spock conveniently perishes, and, v his final breaths, claims to Kirk, “Don"t grieve, Admiral. It is logical. The demands of the plenty of outweigh . . .” Kirk finishes for him, “The needs of the few.” Spock replies, “Or the one.”
In the following film, The find for Spock (1984), the crew that the enterprise discovers that Spock is no actually dead, the his body and also soul endure separately, and that it might be feasible to rejoin them—which the crew proceeds come do. When restored, Spock asks Kirk why the crew conserved him. Kirk answers, “Because the requirements of the one outweigh the demands of the many.” This is, together Spock could say, a fascinating reversal the the article in the previous film.
How can these ideas be reconciled?
We find an answer in the next film, The trip Home (1986). In ~ the start of this film, Spock’s mother, that is human being (his father is Vulcan), asks him whether he quiet believes that, by logic, the requirements of the numerous outweigh the requirements of the few. He states yes. She replies, “Then you are here due to the fact that of a mistake—your friends have given their future to conserve you.” (The crew had broken the law and had unable to do on the operation in order come rescue Spock.) Spock states that people are sometimes illogical; his mother answers, “They are, indeed!”
Later in the film, once crewman Chekov is in trouble, Spock insists the the crew conserve him, even at danger of jeopardizing the crew’s vital mission to conserve Earth and everyone ~ above it. Kirk asks, “Is this the logical thing to do?” Spock answers, “No, however it is the human being thing come do.” return Spock reaffirms his claim that the demands of the many logically outweigh the requirements of the few, he suggests that periodically we have to do the “human” thing, no the logical thing, and also put the demands of the couple of (or the one) first.
So Spock, Kirk, and also Spock’s mother have affirmed the idea that acting logically and also acting “human” deserve to be in ~ odds—and the acting logically method always placing the needs of the countless first. This is the alleged reconciliation the the supposedly conflicting ideas with which we started.
But this logically is not a reconciliation at all.
In logic, (a) there have the right to be no divide between acting logically and also acting human; and (b) as Ayn edge discovered and explained, the requirements of the individual space what give rise come the need and possibility of value judgments to begin with.
Our volume to use logic, to incorporate the proof of our senses in a noncontradictory way, is component of our reasonable faculty—the really faculty that makes us human. Obviously, we additionally have the volume to be illogical, yet that is because our reasonable faculty additionally entails volition, the power to select to think or not to think. We likewise have the capacity to endure emotions, which are automatic responses come our experience in relationship to ours values. (Various other varieties have one emotional capacity as well, but our values are chosen, so even on this score us are significantly different.)
Our emotions, though real and important, are not a way of knowledge; they room automatic reactions to experience in relation to our worth judgments. Our method of expertise is reason, the usage of observation and also logic.
In regard come the Star Trek example, the reason Kirk was best to help Spock is not that doing so to be “human” as against “logical”; rather, the was ideal to assist Spock because, provided the enormous value the Spock is to Kirk, both together a friend and also as a colleague, and given the the mission to assist Spock to be feasible, help him was the logical and thus human being thing to do.
In this case, Kirk’s emotionally ties come Spock aligned v his logical evaluation of Spock’s value to him. That is feasible for a person’s worths to be the end of line with his rational judgment, however in such instances his reasonable judgment continues to be his means of knowledge, and also his emotions should take a backseat until he reassesses his values and brings them earlier into line v his logical evaluate of the facts.
Once we view the relationship and also potential harmony between reason and also emotion, we can see that Spock’s insurance claim that gift logical is (or can be) in ~ odds with being person makes no sense.
What of Spock’s claim, “Logic plainly dictates that the requirements of the many outweigh the needs of the few”? Logic calls for that some proof be readily available in support of such a claim—but Spock uses no proof in assistance of this. He just asserts it. Which “many”? i beg your pardon “few”? “Outweigh” on whose scale? for what purpose? To whose benefit? Why is his or their benefit the proper benefit? Spock go not attend to such questions; he simply asserts that logic plainly dictates his conclusion. Yet it doesn’t.
Far from gift an expression that logic, Spock’s insurance claim that the demands of the numerous outweigh the needs of the couple of is an arbitrarily assertion and also a restatement the the baseless ethical theory recognized as utilitarianism, which asserts that each individual must act to offer the greatest great for the best number. (For a critique that utilitarianism, view my essay on the moral theory that Sam Harris, TOS, Winter 2012–13.)
How walk this principle use in the Star Trek examples? In the case of Kirk’s danger mission to help Spock, Kirk logically concludes that, provided the full context of his values, saving his dear friend is worth the threat involved.
What room we to make, then, the Spock’s last actions in The Wrath of Khan? Does that sacrifice his very own life and values in order to serve the requirements of the many? No. Khan, piloting a damaged ship, sets turn off a machine that will soon reason a huge explosion the will damage his very own ship together with the Enterprise and also its whole crew. Captain Kirk states to his chef engineer, “Scotty, I need warp speed in 3 minutes or we’re all dead.” that is at this point that Spock leaves the bridge, goes to engineering, and enters a radiation-filled room in stimulate to fix the ship’s warp drive. Together a an outcome of Spock’s actions, the Enterprise speeds away to a safe distance from the explosion—but Spock “dies.”
Spock does take into consideration the needs of his friends and shipmates in do this move. However he does no thereby sacrifice his very own values or also his own life. His only different is to die v the ship anyway. Instead of dying and also having every one of his shipmates and friends dice too, he chooses to uphold and protect the worths that that can and also to uphold his commitment to serve as a Star Fleet officer—a place that he determined knowing and accepting the risks involved.
Although in this case Spock should pick the least bad of two poor options, he provides the selection that ideal serves his interests and thus his life.
The just principle constant with logic and also thus with humankind is that if we want to “live long and prosper” (as Vulcans frequently say) we must use logic and also pursue our life-serving values. Fortunately, contrary to Spock’s sometimes illogic, this is what he in reality does. And this is why for this reason many civilization love him. It’s just logical.
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