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Mechwarrior “I’m just paid to teach it. I don’t actually believe any of that crap. Case in point, you just admitted to committing a felon to me and I’m sitting here justifying it because the victim sounds like an asshole.” Markus If Gurwa turns out to be a moral anti-realist I’m rioting. I hope you’ll join me. Ibrinar How could I take him serious as a philosopher if he were a moral realist? SmilingCorpse You don’t have to be a mechanic to drive a car. In that same vein, you don’t have to be a believe a certain school of thought to teach it. In fact, most of the ethics teachers I’ve had had no problem saying that they disapproved of a certain school of thought. However, they did an excellent job balancing it out with positive criticism. Philip Bourque Were we supposed to take him seriously? Ibrinar Who knows, it was merely a dismissive reply to moral anti-realism somehow being a bad thing. (I don’t actually disrespect all your philosophic opinions for being a moral realist but I do think there aren’t any good arguments for it.) cphoenix The belief that one’s preferred culture or religion is the center of the moral universe is as ignorant as the belief that one’s planet is the center of the physical universe. Anything derived from such a belief is unreliable. Any moral system claiming to be both privileged (ideal, etc.) and reliable (universal, etc.) is flawed and untrustworthy. Regardless of what flavor of “moral anti-realist” you were referring to (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-anti-realism/index.html describes three main flavors and at least six sub-categories), I don’t think I’ll be joining your riot. Charles Cameron Olson All things are derived from some assumption of truth, otherwise they are incoherent. If you define all belief systems as inherently lacking in objective truth, yours included, you have ruled yourself out of making a truth-based or moral decision by stating that these things do not exist. Preference is your only king. cphoenix The axioms of Euclidian geometry do not derive from an assumption of truth. In fact there are several kinds of non-Euclidian geometry which explore what happens when one of those axioms is untrue. But I don’t think one can call Euclidian geometry incoherent. Groundedness is a continuum. Objective truth is one end of the continuum. Preference is fleeting – near the opposite end. Treating the continuum as a binary choice, and asserting that anything not grounded in objective truth must be preference, is a fallacy. There are lots of guidelines useful for making choices that attempt, more or less successfully, to be grounded without being tied to some gold-standard reality. For example, “seek the greatest good for the greatest number” is not fully objective; it does not leave much room for personal preference; it is, nonetheless, a morally meaningful rule for deciding actions (though dangerous if used alone). It does not even directly invoke the preferences of the humans it’s seeking the good of, since “good” is presumably longer-term than momentary desire to yell at your kid or eat that third dessert. I’ve answered your first sentence, and your third. Your second sentence – if you define “moral” as requiring 100% objective truth, then I quite agree with it. Recognizing that all decision-making is inherently dependent on both context and unreliable thinking is preferable to the illusion that decisions can be made from some kind of universal truth. Attempting to discern 100% reliable truth will fail, and those who try tends to fall back on accepting received wisdom, which is a very flawed – unreliable and dangerous – basis for making weighty decisions. Of course, making weighty decisions from a non-universal basis is also dangerous. That’s why they are weighty. But a person who recognizes their own unreliability may be convinced to make a different decision. A person who believes their decisions come from the moral center of the universe will bulldoze ahead doing whatever sometimes-hideous thing their belief system tells them to. Markus Who was asserting that they knew some infallible moral truth and why’re you shitting on them like a high school senior who just googled postmodernism? cphoenix Perhaps we misunderstand each other. I thought you were saying that moral anti-realism is a bad thing. If you were not saying that, then I wasn’t talking to you. I did have to google “moral anti-realism,” and as far as I can tell, it involves taking the position that there is no absolute morality. If you were not objecting to that position, then you can ignore what I said. I did not have to google the opinions I expressed; I believe them, strongly enough to be interested in talking about it. If talking about belief systems and morality in the abstract is experienced as shitting on a person, then that person is too identified with their belief system for me to be able to discuss with. Tylikcat I’m still in camp “let’s see where this goes.” He brought her up short, which is entirely consistent with what we’ve seen of him. Also, he stopped her mid- freak out, which, since her freak out had long since gotten past the productive point, was probably useful. Max was being a prick. That can co-exist with the seriousness of Alison’s actions, and the importance of their consequences. I am absolute not against a rhetorical slap in Alison’s face to stop the self flagellation when it had gone past the point of being useful. Mechwarrior Yeah, I just thought it was funny. Tylikcat *grin* Sorry about that. I default to being a bit literal on discussion boards. (Also, I’m *still* chronically oxygen deprived from this dratted bronchial bug. Argh. Should be doing real writing. Cough out my lungs instead.) Weatherheight I hope you’re feeling better soon. My version of that same thing is still.. visiting after a week and a half. Loranna Seconded. Hope you get well soon, Tylikcat! Tylikcat Thanks. I’m grouchy, but recovering. Tylikcat Thanks. This is the second, though significantly less dire virus.* I was finally really mostly better, and then this hit – I’d even cancelled my holiday travel plans in order to rest up better. Phooey. * Or I am hacking my biochemistry more effectively. I am certainly intervening more. Tylikcat Good luck with yours – I have finally resorted to hot toddies (okay, tiny little hot toddies in lovely Japanese tea cups but it does help.) Lostman What… all she did was get revenge on her ex after a nasty break up. Moi She also forced him to violate Feral’s bodily autonomy by enhancing her power without her knowledge or consent. Lostman I was joking. M. Alan Thomas II I think there’s about to be some hate–love whiplash in the comments section. . . . Haven Never change, Gurwara. Guancyto Trolling Level: Philosophy Professor Shweta Narayan And Al’s absolute-trolled eyebrows in the last panel! *dead of giggles* MrSing “Maybe destroying myself would be the most heroic thing I could do.” Jesus Christ, get over yourself, lady. Izo Actually I sort of agree with that. Destroying herself would be the most heroic thing she can do. Or… yknow… not doing evil stuff like she did, and accepting negative consequences for her negative actions 🙂 Nah. Gonna hav Gurwara and everyone else say how Alison was in the right instead and everything is candycanes, puppies, and lollipops. Philip Bourque So, saving countless, countless lives(tm) is evil? I’m not going to debate the morality of what she did, I just think she was really, really, really near-sighted and stupid about the whole thing. Tylikcat This is increasingly where I’m coming down. I’m pretty damn sure she went into it half cocked and did it badly. We don’t know what options there were for better outcomes because they weren’t explored. And I don’t think there’s a reset button. Philip Bourque Half-cocked, emotionally unstable and sleep deprived. I think her decision making skills were not at peak efficiency. Izo She seemed to have a rather thought-out plan actually. Even if it’s stupid. I don’t excuse people who do something evil to another person just because they’re stupid. I’ve seen more than a few absolute morons commit horrible crimes like rape, murder, and assault and don’t think ‘well, they’re not very smart, so they shouldn’t be punished for their crimes.’ Philip Bourque Her `plan`was `talk to him. If he doesn’t agree, try to guilt him, if that doesn’t work then threaten him and twist his arm. Izo “So, saving countless, countless lives(tm) is evil?” No, forcing ones will upon innocent people by death threats and violence is evil. Lets not get into the whole ‘based on what you said, it makes sense for me to kill a person, harvest their organs, and donate the organs to a hospital to save 10 people’ argument. It’s been done to death at this point. “I’m not going to debate the morality of what she did,” If you don’t consider the morality (or rather the immorality) of what she did, then you can’t make a determination of good and evil. Campor I feel like you view the world in a fairly simple manner. I don’t mean that as an insult, I mean that in terms of morality and what qualifies as ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ Is Allison good or evil? Personally, I’d say she’s fairly solidly net good. She saves/saved lives, she doesn’t use her power for selfish reasons (most of the time, at least no more than any normal person would if given the powers of a god), and she isn’t a murderer. Were her actions against Max less heroic than she normally is? Sure, I’d say so to a point… Except she also saved countless lives (as established in the comic) with her actions, and depending on who you ask, the fact Max was willfully not helping already when he could was a more evil and morally unjustifiable act. Do you consider Allison evil because she did something morally grey? Then everyone on Earth is evil. Nobody is all good or all bad, and seeing the world from that point of view is simplistic and I would say harmful. Zac Caslar Ding! Point to Campor. Yup, Deontology -moral absolutism- is functionally Solipsistic (extreme selfishness) Nihilism (blind despair) minus the fishnet leggings and mascara. That kind of thinking is aching for a cliff to jump off of and I say if that’s really who you are, well, “hop” to it. Everyone else has a world to save. Izo “I feel like you view the world in a fairly simple manner. I don’t mean that as an insult, I mean that in terms of morality and what qualifies as ‘good’ or ‘evil.'” No, I just consider utilitarianism to be an evil philosophy in general, with historical basis to back up my belief about this. It’s hardly ‘simple’ in why I think this way. Although I do think, as a general rule, that if you hurt an innocent person, that is a pretty clear indication of doing an evil act. And no good intentions can excuse the fact that you did the evil act, because you need to look at the act from the perspective of the VICTIM of that act. If you maim a child in order to save ten other children, does that make your act no longer evil? The child you maimed isn’t going to be thinking ‘well you did it for a good reason – so you’re a good person.’ Unless the child is the most forgiving saintly being to exist on the planet. If you rob a bank and wind up shooting a guard in order to get money to feed your starving family, do you seriously think that your family needing money for food is going to be of ANY consolation to the guard’s family? “Personally, I’d say she’s fairly solidly net good.” Again, this is a utilitarian mindset, which has been used by SO many fascist governments to justify atrocities in the name of a net good. It’s even been used by some democratic governments for the same reason, like Japanese internment camps during WW2. Good intentions. So many bad things happen because of ‘good intentions’ – as if people have any clue about what is objectively good vs subjectively good, or have some sort of precognition to prevent against the law of unintended consequences. “Do you consider Allison evil because she did something morally grey? ” I don’t consider what Alison did to be morally gray. She did something morally wrong. Threatening to kill someone and using violence to force them when they are innocent of any wrongdoing is WRONG. Telling them you can and will do it again if you want to, and telling them no one can stop you because you’re stronger than they are is WRONG. And yeah, that’s evil. “Then everyone on Earth is evil.” Everyone on Earth does not go around physically harming and threatening other people who are completely innocent. Your statement is flawed. “Nobody is all good or all bad, and seeing the world from that point of view is simplistic and I would say harmful.” I find your statement that you can measure value of life and value of freedom, excuse good intentions for bad acts, and moral equivalency between not wanting to do something good and actively doing something bad to be far more harmful, not only to the world in the present and future, but to what’s already happened in the past, multiple times. Campor “I don’t consider what Alison did to be morally gray.” Of course you don’t. The fact that people can go one way or the other on it fairly easily is what makes it morally gray regardless of your personal opinion on it. “Everyone on Earth does not go around physically harming and threatening other people who are completely innocent. Your statement is flawed.” What makes Max innocent? Again your own personal morality isn’t enforced on everyone, and that’s exactly why moral absolutism doesn’t work. I consider Max to be anything but innocent, he had the capacity and opportunity to save countless lives with no real effort on his part, and actively choosing not to do so (regardless of the fact it was out of spite on top of that) I consider morally unjust. You don’t, and that’s where we differ and why we’ll never agree on this. “I find your statement that you can measure value of life and value of freedom, excuse good intentions for bad acts, and moral equivalency between not wanting to do something good and actively doing something bad to be far more harmful, not only to the world in the present and future, but to what’s already happened in the past, multiple times.” Allison didn’t want to push Max the way she did, clearly. The past several pages have been following her regretting it. She felt it was necessary because he wouldn’t help otherwise. Again, it’s more complex than you seem to believe. Similarly, Max’s situation isn’t as simple as you make it out to be. There’s a world of difference between not having the time/money/intellect to learn to become a doctor and so opting to do something else, and already being a doctor and choosing not to save a life when given the opportunity. I would consider the latter morally unjust if not evil, and Max falls more into the latter category given his abilities and the opportunity presented to him. Izo “Of course you don’t. The fact that people can go one way or the other on it fairly easily is what makes it morally gray regardless of your personal opinion on it.” No, I don’t consider what she did to be morally grey because there’s no ‘partial victimization’ of Max here. I’m looking at this from the perspective of the victim, while you’re totally disregarding the victim. No offense, but what you’re arguing is analagous to someone saying that a man who rapes a woman was in a morally grey area because he genuinely thought she was wanting sex because of how she was dressed, or because she was getting frisky, and that the ‘no’ at the end was not a big enough deal to mitigate the fact that the man wanted sex. It’s morally grey to the man. It’s not morally grey to the woman. He was asking for it (ie, being physically forced) because he’s a prick. She was asking for it (ie, being physically forced because she’s a slut. See the similarity? “What makes Max innocent?” Wow, you have to prove your innocence now? None of that stupid innocent until proven guilty stuff? How about this…. What makes Max guilty? What makes Max innocent? The fact that he hasnt done anything to Alison, or to anyone, to make him worthy of being physically violated or accosted. That’s what makes him innocent. “Again your own personal morality isn’t enforced on everyone, and that’s exactly why moral absolutism doesn’t work.” What makes you innocent that someone shouldn’t come to your house and beat you up? Are you doing enough to help your fellow man? Are you doing enough to help your fellow man based on the subjective view of the person who would be beating you up? “I consider Max to be anything but innocent, he had the capacity and opportunity to save countless lives with no real effort on his part, and actively choosing not to do so” This concept is TERRIFYING. The idea that you think you have the right to force someone to DO something else. That you equate being able to force someone to do something good to forcing someone to NOT do something bad shows a fundamental disconnect with human rights. “(regardless of the fact it was out of spite on top of that) I consider morally unjust. You don’t, and that’s where we differ and why we’ll never agree on this.” You should be very happy that I don’t consider it morally just to force someone to do something because I personally feel they could be doing something beneficial to others. Even with the limited power I’ve had in real life that would be frighteningly easy to abuse, I was held, both morally and legally and professionally, to a set of rules of ethics in which personal liberties comes first and foremost, and my own personal beliefs on what you should do do not factor into it. If I had power akin to Alison, you should justifiably hope I would die before I’d decide that maybe I should be forcing YOU or someone you love to do something against their will, by physical force, because I think it would be beneficial to others, based on nothing but my personal belief – whether it works out for my belief or not. “Allison didn’t want to push Max the way she did, clearly.” You seem to have selective amnesia as to what Alison did or did not want to do. She spent a few minutes trying to convince him, insulted him, minimized his legitimate worries (which turned out to be justified based on how Alison acted IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS), then threatened him, then physically assaulted him to make him do what she wanted. Then afterwards, she excused what she did simply because ‘she was stronger than he was’ and that she would do it again if she wanted to, leaving Max with a permanent sense of dread about the next time the psychopathic tyrant superhuman who cannot be stopped by anyone chooses to use him for her own means again. “The past several pages have been following her regretting it. She felt it was necessary because he wouldn’t help otherwise.” Yeah that five minutes of ‘do this, you cowardly idiot – you must be altruistic because I say you should be’ was really convincing. So anyway when was the last time you donated blood, and why havent you done it more often? “Similarly, Max’s situation isn’t as simple as you make it out to be. There’s a world of difference between not having the time/money/intellect to learn to become a doctor and so opting to do something else, and already being a doctor and choosing not to save a life when given the opportunity.” The doctors should keep Feral strapped in to train doctors on how a human circulatory system, nervous system, and how the brain works while still functioning, which would be a lot more helpful for the medical community than working on cadavers. After all, it will advance medical science by decades, if not more, and train thousands of doctors in a way that computer programs and cadavers never would. Plus it might even help them figure out how superpowers work in ways that they have not figured yet. Maybe even giving Feral’s ability to heal to the entire planet. And all it requires is keeping her in torture. It’s for the greater good, man! /sarcasm.. Philip Bourque Morality, good and evil all boil down to this: If I agree with it, it’s good, if I disagree with it it is evil. There is a very simple way to look at this: did Alison commit criminal acts? She threatened, assaulted and kidnapped Max. Yes, she is a criminal and should be treated as such. Is she a threat to society as a whole and should be thus eliminated? I’m leaning towards yes. If she does this again, it’s a definite yes. Notice that morality, and the terms good and evil were not used. SJ There is a very simple way to look at this: did Alison commit criminal acts? She threatened, assaulted and kidnapped Max. Yes, she is a criminal and should be treated as such. Is she a threat to society as a whole and should be thus eliminated? I’m leaning towards yes. If she does this again, it’s a definite yes. Notice that morality, and the terms good and evil were not used. And, you know what? That’s fine. Still less than I would like, but it seems to me like a more or less reasonable middle ground. When are we going to get to the “Treating Alison like a criminal” part of the story? MrSing I don’t think she’s suicidal. She’s just being all “Woe is me, I can’t believe Max turned me into a violent kidnapper.” Which is quite disgusting in the fact that she only seems to care in how this affects her with nary a thought about the person she acted upon. But even if she was being suicidal over this, killing yourself to run away from your troubles instead of trying to improve or make ammends is such a cowardly, selfish act and a waste of human life that I’m actually kinda mad that she even suggested it. Izo Well in the way you describe it, I agree with you. I guess I was hoping that she at least sees HERSELF as a danger to humanity and thinks the safest thing for humanity is for her to not be part of it. I agree about your second paragraph also, but the amends need to be made to the person she wronged, and I don’t really see how that will happen. She should be punished in some way, or the moral of this story really is ‘The strong should abuse the weak if you think, in your subjective judgment, that you will get a good result from doing that.’ That’s just a horrifying prospect. MrSing She doesn’t even really need to be punished in my opinion. I don’t even need or want to have her plan fail in any way. All I ask from the story is that it shows the impact that this undoubtedly would have on Max. I want the comic to show the consequences her deeds have on Max. The comic keeps waffling with showing Allison fretting over how much of a monster she is, making it seem like the only negative consequence is just how much of a good person Allison is for being so noble that she is willing to stain her hands, that she is willing to bear this cross for all those people. It’s just so sad she had to do this, that she had to lower herself to this level. Her suffering serves, on the surface, only to make her seem like a better person. She isn’t that evil, she’s sorry about it all! While on closer inspection it reveals that she mainly cares about how what she has done affects her and what it says about her. She doesn’t even really care about Max, only that she had to stain her hands. It’s a self absorbed kind of suffering that’s pretty telling about her character in my opinion. And it’s pretty consistent too. No, my biggest objection is that we never really saw Max suffering. He is pathelogically against being told what to do. He completely loses control whenever even someone suggests he should do something for them, Yet he was oddly nonplussed about the whole “being forced to do something I really don’t want to do thing” afterwards. He looked more annoyed than terrified or enraged. Like a normal person would be after being kidnapped and forced at the treath of murder and pain to comply. He’s just quietly shuffled away from the scene so we can focus on Allison’s pain and the good consequences of her actions. While one of the most vital parts of this moral conundrum is the suffering and mental damage that Allison inflicted on Max. The cherry on top would, of course, be if Allison’s family found out and would have a few choice words with her, but even that isn’t essential to me. But the comic just doesn’t show it. That’s the consequence I want to see. That’s why all this stuff is grating on me. The chief negative consequence of Allison’s choice is just being flat out ignored. Care about Max or not. Enjoy or revile his suffering or not. It needs to be shown or the scenario is just unfinished. SJ Care about Max or not. Enjoy or revile his suffering or not. It needs to be shown or the scenario is just unfinished. And allow me to add this, from my point of view: that we have not been shown how this has impacted/continues to impact Max allows people to continue to throw up their “a few seconds of discomfort” shields. I expect that the last time we saw Max, he was still too in shock to give any sort of reaction, and the next time we see him (if we see him again) will involve him experiencing some form of PTSD, and who knows what else. Stephanie I don’t think a “few seconds of discomfort shield” is actually necessary for anyone on the utilitarian side of this debate. Whether Max experiences a few seconds of discomfort or a lifetime of PTSD, his suffering is still vastly outweighed by the suffering that the transplant recipients and their loved ones would have experienced without Alison’s intervention. I won’t shy away from saying “Causing Max a lifetime of PTSD is justifiable in order to eliminate all deaths from lack of blood/organ/tissue transplants for the rest of Feral’s life.” SJ The axiom of a tyrant, indeed. Stephanie Also the axiom of someone who wouldn’t prioritize one person over millions, so I’m okay with that. SJ I wonder how okay you’d be with it if you were the one who had to get your hands dirty? Stephanie I’ve already said a few times that I don’t know whether I would personally be able to go through with torturing someone, even if I believed it was the right thing to do. Most people aren’t capable of fully living up to their own values, and I’m aware of my limitations (squeamish, high empathy). That said, I would certainly try, and I would be disgusted with myself if I failed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s me or someone else who has to “get their hands dirty.” Either way, I don’t see any reason that I couldn’t go through with what Alison did, the worst of which was to twist Max’s arm. Would it be fun? Of course not. Would it be a horrible memory for the rest of my life? Sure. But that’s nothing in the face of millions of lives. I am not so selfish that I would prioritize my own mental health over millions of lives. SJ I’ve already said a few times that I don’t know whether I would personally be able to go through with torturing someone, even if I believed it was the right thing to do. Most people aren’t capable of fully living up to their own values, and I’m aware of my limitations (squeamish, high empathy). That said, I would certainly try, and I would be disgusted with myself if I failed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s me or someone else who has to “get their hands dirty.” If you set out with the intent to torture somebody, you should be disgusted with yourself, whether you ‘fail’ or not. Either way, I don’t see any reason that I couldn’t go through with what Alison did, the worst of which was to twist Max’s arm. Would it be fun? Of course not. Would it be a horrible memory for the rest of my life? Sure. But that’s nothing in the face of millions of lives. I am not so selfish that I would prioritize my own mental health over millions of lives. Yes, you are. You’re just rationalizing it differently. I mean, you say this, but it’s not actually true. You’re prioritizing your mental health, the same as I am. I am saying that my mental health is so important, that I can’t live with the guilt of torturing somebody, and you’re saying that your mental health is so important, that you can’t live with the guilt of not torturing somebody. Only you rationalize prioritizing your mental health by saying that it will benefit “Millions of Lives™” to torture somebody, even though you don’t actually know this to be true, and have no way of independently verifying it. You’re either reaching this conclusion, based on unreliable mental calculus, or you’re taking someone else’s word for it, that This Action is the One and Only Thing that can save Millions of Lives™, and that we don’t have time to come up with a better alternative. You don’t actually know those things to be true: you simply believe them to be true, because it is essential to your mental health that they be true, because you haven’t figured out any other way to rationalize the torture. And again with the “worst of which was to twist Max’s arm”… I can’t help but think of a quote that I’ve heard attributed to Mel Brooks: tragedy is when I get a hangnail, comedy is when you fall through an open manhole, and die. Stephanie Are you seriously implying that I want to torture people and will go out of my way to look for justification to do so? That’s disgusting. I’m genuinely offended, although not surprised coming from you, that you would make that kind of accusation. The fact of the matter is that, in a scenario like that where I have to choose the lesser of two evils, I would be desperately searching for any reason not to have to hurt someone. I don’t want to hurt anyone under any circumstances, so it would take an extraordinary situation–one I’d still approach with more than my usual level of skepticism–to convince me to do so. If anything, the ethical pitfall I’d be most likely to fall into would be inappropriately seizing on some risky, hail-mary “have my cake and eat it too” alternative, and losing everything as a result. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you want to have this discussion with me, I ask you to engage with my actual principles, instead of making up secret, monstrous motivations for me because you can’t grasp the difference between recognizing a moral obligation to do something versus actually wanting to do that thing. SJ I’m not “implying” anything. What I am stating, outright, is that you don’t prioritize your mental health any less than I do, you’ve just convinced yourself that you’re not self-serving, and I’ve made peace with what I am. You’re prioritizing your own mental health over your neighbor, over someone that you can look in the eyes, the same as I am. The only difference is that you’re doing so under the pretense of it being for the benefit of Millions of Lives™. Millions of Lives™, I hasten to add, that you don’t actually know are being benefited, because you don’t know the Millions of People, you’ve never met the Millions of People, and you will never meet the Millions of People. You’re just taking it on faith: someone told you that torturing That Guy Over There will save Millions of Lives™, and you believe it to be true. But you can’t back that up, you’re not going to independently verify that; you simply believe it to be true. Why? Because it is essential to your mental health that it be true. Because otherwise, you’re just allowing someone to be tortured, something you know to be wrong. You don’t know, and can’t know, that there are actually Millions of People who are in imminent danger of death, unless you torture That Guy Over There, and you won’t know after you tortured him that you actually succeeded. You have decided to do it because you believe that it will work. I don’t have the faith that sort of belief requires. Stephanie So once again, instead of making an actual counterargument, you’re resorting to poorly-informed armchair psychology. Your logic is flawed. I would have to be convinced that torturing someone will help millions before I would ever consider going through with it. I’m not going to just start torturing someone and then go “gee, this better save millions of lives or I’ll feel super bad!” That’s stupid. It’s obvious that my mental health would be best served by it not being the case that torturing someone would save millions of lives. Because then I don’t have to torture anyone OR let anyone die. It takes some seriously contorted logic and a poor grasp of causality to come to the conclusion you did. Stephanie I think he will show up again and we will see how this affected him/how he’s going to react, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be soon. I think it would be better pacing for the comic to move on to another arc for a while, as Max processes this and takes whatever steps he’s going to take in the background. Then he can show up later, when the consequence crockpot has had plenty of time to simmer. MrSing It would have actually been great timing to show how Max felt immediatly after Allison left. I mean, we had time to see the good consequences of her actions. We even had time for that weird Clevin cinema stuff and the Feral and Paladin shenanigans. But now everyone has gone and made up their own conclusions and we have spent months waiting to see the actual negative consequence of Allison’s actions. If they ever show up after Max was instantly removed from the narrative like he wasn’t important to the moral equation. Stephanie There isn’t much reason for him to be in the narrative right now. The story is told from Alison’s POV, and she has no reason to be around him. MrSing That seems like a cop-out to me. We had time for Clevin and the cinema but not for Max? Besides, when the Mary arc was starting we cut to Mary killing people plenty of times without Allison being anywhere in sight. Because it was important to the story. It wouldn’t be breaking any of the story’s conventions. Simply by virtue of being one of the only three primary people Allison’s actions had negative effects on and being the primary victim of Allison’s actions (with Feral being arguably the second victim) he has a very strong reason to be in the narrative. Stephanie It’s not that there wasn’t time, it’s that it didn’t make sense to resolve Max’s story right away. It would have been bad pacing. Max belongs in the narrative, and I’m sure he remains part of the narrative, but it doesn’t make sense for him to be onscreen right now. Stephanie “She’s just being all “Woe is me, I can’t believe Max turned me into a violent kidnapper.” ” I don’t get the impression that she is foisting the blame onto Max like that, at all. She’s pretty clearly taking full responsibility for her choices here. MrSing It was meant more to point out that she doesn’t care about what happened to Max at all, but that she only mainly cares about what it says about her. Lostman While not suicidal, Alison does have a bad habit of over working herself along with worrying about things she no control over. Both common among many people these’ days. cphoenix I see what you did there. Very nice! Many years ago I read Behold The Man by Michael Moorcock, and from what little I remember, it may be apropos here. Cake Translation: “There’s philosophy and there’s the real fucking world we all have to live in.” AveryAves Actually this is the kinda thing I think about when I read a lot of the comments Of course yeah Allison lives in a universe where she has superpowers that could fight an army (so carefully considering the ways she uses these is important) but also there is a limit to “Subjectivity is bad, objectivity is good”? Once you get into permanent unchanging axioms philosophy starts forming a bit of a haze between itself and reality. Virgil Clemens This. I feel like it would be a good start if he also pointed out that she’s committed worse crimes for worse reasons, and hasn’t used that to subconsciously justify becoming the next Cleaver or Menace, so the fact she’s acknowledging her mistake is at least a positive sign. Virgil Clemens This. It would be nice if he followed it up with something along the lines of pointing out that she’s committed worse crimes for worse reasons before, and she hasn’t used that behavior to slide into the role of Cleaver or Menace, so the fact she’s acknowledging her actions is at least a step in the right direction. Alex Hollins and how much has she not dealt with those crimes before? lets face it, shes got a bit of sociopathic tendencies and ptsd to deal with, and this… seems like its opening the floodgates. And…. I speak as someone making the EXACT statements as her before. You don’t need superpowers to be at that level of hurting someone because it needs to be done, and making yourself dead inside while doing it. Charles Cameron Olson Discerning between “justified force” and “violence” requires a foundation of truth with which to determine what “justice” is. Without that foundation, everything is relative and eventually boils down to who has the most power with which to force their beliefs on everyone else… because everyone can’t just live and let live when we are all, in fact, intimately tied together and inescapably affect each other’s lives even with our small actions. On what grounds do you demand that a person who possesses a life-saving ability exercise that ability? If such grounds exist, does anyone have the authority to make those demands, or only those who are put in a place of authority for the purpose of law enforcement? How do we determine whether or not such grounds exist? Psile Yeah, this pretty much sums up my feelings on the whole scenario. Sometimes you have two shit choices, and you choose the less shitty one. Or you try to. Allison tried to choose the less shitty one, but her choices have a deeper impact than most of ours. telk But what makes a choice less shitty? Over nine hundred years ago, Anselm of Canterbury pointed out that, if a person is given the choice between lying or being killed, “unwillingly, he either lies or is killed,but it does not therefore follow that he unwillingly lies or that he unwillingly dies.” (ita quoque licet invitus aut mentiatur aut occidatur, non tamen ideo consequitur ut invitus mentiatur aut ut invitus occidatur (De libertate arbitrii, ch. V)) Anselm’s concern was soteriological, and therefore dying is preferable to lying. But this brings us right back to your axioms: choices are less shitty because of the axioms that underlie individual constructions of reality, not some objective truth. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Translation: “I agree to live in a real world where top dogs get to make tough calls.” For your sake I hope you at least realize and commit to the horrific consequences of this coward’s choice. Shweta Narayan I hope you realize and commit to the horrific consequences of this emotionally manipulative, silencing, bullying kind of statement and all the unpacked assumptions it dumps on an interlocutor. Cake Not to mention I have no idea of what they’re talking about. It was just a mean sounding word salad referencing the unmentioned horrible cowardice and consequences that exist only in their head. Shweta Narayan My best guess is that what you said sounded enough like something else to get the response that was actually aimed at something else. Because there’s the *fact* that rigid axiomatic systems tend to break under the stress of real-world complexity, and then there’s the people who use that to justify how people in power will abuse that power and use convenient excuses. Far as I can tell you were noting the first and got mistaken for saying the second. Esp given that there’s 20 pages of comment war and lots of anger to go around, which is exactly when something that sounds like something else gets jumped on. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Oh, they were just “noting the first”. I see. My awful mistake. Nevermind that “the people who use that to justify how people in power will abuse that power and use convenient excuses” is what happens on the freaking page Shweta Narayan All that is on the page so far is him stopping Al’s rather self indulgent self-blame fest. But look, if you want to keep taking your reading as objective truth and trying to yell other people down with vague nastyposts about it, you go right ahead. I did, however, think you were better than that. I thought your anger came from actual compassion for others. So, yeah. Bye. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 …what are you doing? Now that you can’t really argue that the justification of abuse of power *is* on the page you’re going to pretend Gurwara was being coy about it? After you came at me defending the view of commenter who defintely thought it was genuine? Lostman post-election anxiety I take it? ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Pre, actually. I’m going to offend sensibilities and say that now that your silly American freakshow is done, we can get serious and care about things that actually matter like our own Presidential election here in France this coming May. But also yes Lostman Mmm not far the mark: Canadian actually. We are going to have a few elections here soon. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Hey now, I don’t support bullying. You kind of do. “Real world” and all. Lostman Alison got to do what Alison got to do. Shweta Narayan You just made an extremely bullying comment, making vague and seriously manipulative claims about a post without any backing for them, so it’s irrelevant whether you *claim* to not support bullying. The real world does in fact exist, and is more complex than any cognitive model of it can possibly be; and so *certainly* more complex than totally-coincidentally-mostly-white-middle-class-able-bodied-NT philosophy professors come up with. Talking about that is not inherently bullying. You may be coming in angry because you read something into the op here, or maybe I want to believe that because I want to believe you’re better than that; but either way, your actions were really harmful in this thread and for no clear reason. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 I’d speak about how oh so wrong I think you are about the poster’s actual intentions and implied statements, but I don’t know whether that would alter the context in your mind and transform undignified bully tactics into legitimate outrage if by miracle I should manage to convince you. Shweta Narayan :deleting: not worth my spoons Zac Caslar So unrelated to whatever all this is I thought I saw that you say that your elections, the French elections, were coming up and that you are worried/stressed/etc. This might be damning, but I like you*. I think you’ve got very good intentions that’re a bit deranged by by a moral reach that exceeds a philosophical grasp (as modern liberals tend to, sadly), but that they’re paired with real concern for the greater human condition. As a modern ‘Murican I can promise you that, however much and intensely as we disagree, my culture is positively sodden with far more who hoot mightily how they intend far worse. Here’s hoping Marine Le Pen and her scum get bounced out on their goddamn ears and that braver hearts win the day. Fight the good fight. Liberte’, Egalite’, Person-ete’. 😉 *And the Lesborg Collective, of course! Weatherheight And just like that, Guwara turns the conversation on its head… again. I don’t know what his game is, but I find that game entertaining as all get out (and I am somewhat ashamed to admit this). I would have liked to hear a bit more of Alison’s Story here.. the details she mentioned or did not mention are important. The difference between what people say and what they mean is astonishing sometimes (once had players in a game of mine start a war by slightly misrepresenting what they had seen – and no one sent to investigate could repudiate that viewpoint). And isn’t it interesting that anywhere where we see Guwara’s face, there is blue sky also there (or reflected blue sky, in the case of panel 2), but Alison’s face by itself in panel 3 has a gray background? Loranna The burro beat me to it! Nooooo! *shakes fist* All I am left to comment on, is the fact that Alison’s solo frame is square, while any frame that includes Professor Gurwara, or just the scenery, is a stretched out rectangle, heavy with extra width! What kind of insightful commentary can I draw from *that*!? On the other hand, I do like that Alison’s finally getting some of this off her chest. And that Gurwara has her flabbergasted yet again. This guy has some skills, waiting a beat before throwing out the quip. 🙂 Loranna Weatherheight Oh, I think you can say something like… “The only panel where Alison is the focus of attention is a square, synonymous with rigidity and conformity, while those panels with Guwara are rectangles of varying sizes, implying structure and solidity but also showing variability.” ::scampers for the hills before Loranna begins hurling rotten tomatoes at him:: Loranna I have trained you well, I see 😉 Dogwood In my opinion, the shape of their respective panels probably has less to do with their worldview and more with making sure their responses fit in the same line. Allison gets one action in row two, so she gets one big panel, so Guwara’s two actions must be chopped in half. But there is a deliberate trick in Guwara’s second row panels. The majority of the space is empty, and he’s pushed to the right. This causes our eye to linger on the emptiness, and thereby stretching out the tiny moments depicted. As such, his statement about Max feels more shocking, because it’s given a drawn out depiction of pause-then-hold. Loranna Having re-viewed those panels, yeah, you’re right; good catch ^_^ I also notice, in Alision’s close up panel, she is slightly left of center, thus further increasing the distance between her and Gurwara in those panels. Then in the final panel, bam, they’re both right next to each other, the separation of the previous panels sharply reversed. Symbolic, says I, of the gulf between their worldviews and perceptions ^_^ Yes, I know, it’s probably just the way the blocking worked out for the scene, much like the shape of the panels was probably due to more practical considerations, like you say. But it’s neat, I think, that the blocking happens to work out that way, as did the shape of the panels ^_~ Loranna AveryAves Actually if there’s anything I like more it’s when you can interpret a characters internal situation and whatnot from colour backgrounds, detail, ect. Having everything behind Allison removed is also very effective and actually makes me feel those “Stuck in a mental rut” feels Happened in that recent kiss scene as well, that I can think of Weatherheight I like that. Maybe some degree of isolation, as well, looming large in Alison’s viewpoint? AveryAves Well yeah that usually comes free with being stuck in a mental rut Zac Caslar Oh, and Guwara smokes. A doubtless self-recognized self-destructive habit that serves to do aught else besides to feed a weakness. And it’s also cool because a fire at your fingertips for the fire in your heart -so Ayn Rand thought. :3 But yeah, digest that Burro-ito-Supreme. maggiemaui I think that if someone has that many scars it’s very possible that life has led them to expert level skills in both philosophy AND over-simplifying yet spot-on quips. Dean And gallows humour! Ian Osmond That many facial scars? I figure he probably has cats. palmvos I have cats…. have had them for many years. I still have more scars from my childhood both outwardly and inwardly. I’ve been bitten and scratched at the same time because the bloody fool animal wanted, in its ignorance, to be left behind. Ian Osmond I don’t blame anyone but myself for my cat scratch scars. Every time I pick up a squirmy cat and put her on my head, I know it’s my action. My cats have never deliberately attacked me. But, well, when you put a cat on your shoulders and she falls off flailing… My back looks like the professor’s face. weirdee somewhere along the way you lost your survival instinct that would discourage you from wearing sharp, panicky things as hats Cake Pretty sure he got those scars being tortured in a tyrannical regime. SmilingCorpse Who knows, he could have trained with very sassy monks. Gat That settles it, he’s actually a Jedi. SmilingCorpse My god…it all makes sense. Jonathan Boynton Enter the devil’s advocate done well… maybe? This seems like the opening move to getting her to confront her own issues by agreeing with what she did so she argues the other side herself and finds her own conclusion. Don’t know how many people would be familiar with the reference, but I’m reminded a little of Jasnah and Shallan in Way of Kings, only with the ‘actor’ switched between student and teacher. Yirtimd2 Well, Way of kings would be not so bad. I will be more afraid if it’s will be something like “Breaking Bad” – teacher and his student make some outlaw ehhh-h… things… And if it’s superheroic stuff, it’s like in Injustice, where Senestro pushed Sups to be a bad guy and teached him to make people fear him. SmilingCorpse Seems more like a loose version of the Socratic method to me. Getting Allison to come to her own conclusion through a simple back and forth. Martine Votvik That’s right man, get her out of that loop. zellgato Haha. Well he gets points for that comment there. Totally working with brain guy or someone similiar. Or even a former masked villian and she herself gave him his scars. zarawesome Alright kid let me tell you about something called “situational ethics”. Manuel Simone Ok, so Alison sounds like a over the top drama queen, exaggerating everything to ridiculous levels and the professor is all ok with her confession like what she did is the most normal thing someone to do to a prick, he seems really calm and collected and even a bit sarcastic at the end. I’m starting to like him quite a lot, he can be a father figure for her and maybe convince her to stop being such a drama queen and realize that there are people worse than her, making her look like a saint in comparison, Seer of Trope It’s mainly Ailson knowing that people lives and livelihood are at stake when it come to her decisions because she’s so powerful. She’s ultimately scared of herself because of the possibility that she might cause something catastrophic by losing control of herself. She’s trying to condition herself into prevent doing something like that on a larger scale, and she doesn’t know how to do it without feeling guilt over every consequence. By obsessively trying to be responsible over her action, she is forgetting to be responsible over her emotions. By shouldering all the blame herself to feel in control, she is unable to accept someone else’s responsibility over their own decisions. Weatherheight Excellent summary. Roman Snow Damn, maybe he really is some kind of secret villain. SumoFrog Allison reminds me of that kid who takes Intro Psych and starts diagnosing themselves and everyone they know with every mental disorder under the sun. You’ve taken one day of Philosophy, kiddo. Cool your jets! ampg Well, she’s a couple of years into a philosophy major, so a bit more than that, but I get your point. SumoFrog I wish I could claim to have been employing hyperbole, but nah, I totally forgot that was her major. Oops! I imagine you can see why I might make that mistake, though: It’s not as though Al is applying any of her other years of philosophy to this situation. Making a judgement based on a single philosophy lecture, regardless of previous education, seems like a bad idea. Yirtimd2 Well, I think all she need is to do some Injus… I mean maybe she is just too tired and she need some rest, some party, some lesbian threesome and all that weird thought will be wiped out instantly! And maybe it would be better to her to get some trickster teaching from noir-like old Philosopher – in that way she will learn how to lie to herself and her conscience won’t be the root of her endless depressions as now. weedgoku I like how the author is still completely and utterly unwilling to do anything that casts a shadow over their precious, precious character or follow through with any kind of consequences. Nope, back to everyone loving Allison, the perfect super hero! Ignore the violence and murder, kid’s just a prick! Manuel Simone I can understand the authors’ point of view. Every author love their characters and find impossible to judge them or even (a bit extreme) let others judge them, the authors are very similar to parents that would do anything to protect their precious kids, no matter how bad they’re. The characters are for authors what kids are for parents, they created (give birth to) them, they developed (raised) them, they love them almost in a same manner parents love their kids. You have to understand them, even if you’re not a writer, but try to see from their point of view. At least SFP’s authors have no problems allowing readers to judge their characters, even if they themselves can’t do that. Ben Posin Uh….that doesn’t really sound right. Any of it. You don’t feel like you’ve been invited to question Alison’s decisions or good sense all throughout this story? Her priorities, her morality? That’s struck me as one of the big themes/points of this story. Weatherheight That’s an interesting thought – the responses of those within the narrative framework regarding Alison’s actions are in some measure less important that the responses of the individual readers outside of the narrative framework. The idea that we, as readers, are being asked to think about the characters using our judgement and our ethics and our values and our morality and compare our reactions to those reactions of the characters within their value framework and within the narrative framework is the hallmark of literature (IMHO). Again… Neat. weedgoku It doesn’t feel like there’s much to question, really. Time and time again she’s always chosen violence and aggression. She’s openly admitted to enjoying fighting and wanting to kill. It’s really strange that so many people side with someone who is effectively super powered bully just because she claims to be doing the right thing. They go so far as to blame her victims for what she does to them. The max situation is the perfect example of why I think most people in this comment section are messed up. She doesn’t try to bargain with him, doesn’t try to reason with him. Doesn’t try anything beyond asking him about private information she shouldn’t know, right after they had a bad argument beforehand. Obviously he’s not going to be in a good mood. And instead of trying any alternative, she jumps straight to violence. And everyone can’t help but leap over themselves to pat the character on the shoulder for being right, for assaulting someone who “deserves” it even though the worst he did, was disagree with her. Ben Posin Well, off the top of my head: we’re shown that for years Alison was selfish, somewhat narrow minded, and extremely naïve while with the Guardians, someone who bought into the idea of being a superhero regardless of the fallout or consequences—and both we and she are hit over the head with the fallout when she discovers she unknowingly killed her professor’s S.O. we’re shown Alison’s very confused relationship with Patrick/Menace, and that apparently she’s allowed her fascination/attraction to him cloud her reasoning in how to treat him, to the point that she was basically going to give him a free pass for his violent attempts to overthrow the government. Woof, that was a painful wakeup call, and really threw her judgment into question. we’re shown, as you note, that Alison DOES enjoy fighting, that she does fantasize about solving problems by killing people. Which I think is perfectly understandable given her history and situation, but anyway for the purposes of our conversation this is a support for my viewpoint, not yours—it’s a view at her humanity and imperfections. we’re shown a real problem with relationships in general. She’s extremely isolated, got kicked out by her roommate (her first non-biodynamic friend since she got her powers), made an ass of herself at Brad’s convention and alienated half the attendees etc. She’s bad at people, though maybe getting better. Her encounter with Mary calls into question how much Alison has really thought about her relationship with power and authority–such as whether she is limiting the ways in which she is using her power based on indoctrination and blind respect for authority. Or whether threatening the Feral-protestors and killing that dude were ignored by the government not because they considered her behavior acceptable or understandable, but because they really don’t think they have a good way to contain her and don’t want to push the issue. That’s got to be a pretty sobering thought, to suddenly realize you’ve maybe been out there past the edge of what’s considered sane and acceptable, but no one in authority is brave enough to tell you? And frankly, I think you’re nuts if you think we readers aren’t being invited to question whether the extort Max plan was ethical, and whether Alison has crossed a line. She pukes at the thought of doing something like that again even though she’s been told by a doctor in the know that if she could reproduce what happened to Feral she could do huge societal goods. She’s literally wondering if she is a tyrant that has to be stopped. Now, I get that you’re unhappy that the one character she’s unburdened herself to seems about to tell her that she was justified and is overthinking things—-but friend, if you want to talk to people about this you’re going to have to be open to the idea that folks may honestly disagree with you about the ethics of what Alison did. Other readers, possibly the author. Or even if folks agree with you about the ultimate ethical call, that they can be a lot more sympathetic to the pressures of the moment for Alison, who is pretty bummed out about Feral’s constant suffering, amongst other things. Anyway, that’s far too much time on this during a work day. Take care! weedgoku That’s the thing though, Alison and her choices aren’t deep and in almost any other piece of media she would be the villain. Now, I’m not saying this is a bad thing at all, different perspectives are always interesting. The thing I’m trying to point out here, and maybe I’m just getting my point across poorly, is that nothing in the comic’s world challenges alison’s point of view. In turn, nothing really invites the readers to do it either. Any time she does something questionable, it’s either ignored, handwaved or she gets patted on the back because it was The Right Thing. The closest we’ve come to her receiving any kind of rebuff was when she mucked about at the convention. That alone made Brad one of my favorite characters in this comic and, given the general tone of the rest of the comic and even this scene going on right here, I’m surprised he didn’t immediately call Alison back up and tell her sorry, she could hire anyone she wanted from his support groups. Ibrinar Have you considered that there is not much depth to the formula of: You did wrong now everyone will be against it and you will be hit by karma backslash because that is how we know it is wrong? GreatWyrmGold There’s not much depth to people consistently being either for or against the protagonist. Ben Posin That folks don’t see this has been driving me crazy. A huge part of this story is Alison having to come to grips with the fact that she really could get away with doing things that she sees as ethically questionable or illegal in support of her larger moral goals, and deciding what to do with that. The instant backlash a hopefully vocal minority seems to want would gut this story. scottfree She just recently tore up a check from Patrick for $25 million. She could have had enough money to do whatever she wanted, but where the money came from stopped her from accepting it. She could have done a lot worse than bully a prick into helping save thousands of lives too, but people are acting like “wasn’t saintly and perfect ” like it’s a huge failing that ruins the whole comic. Ben Posin The complaint I am marveling at is not that she isn’t perfect, but that the authors are bad people if they don’t immediately have Alison slapped down for what the complainers have decided is unethical behavior. Seer of Trope That’s pretty much saying that you’ll hate people for disagreeing with you on the Trolley Problem. Ben Posin Huh? I’m not castigating anyone for having the opinion that Alison did a BAD THING, even if I may not necessarily agree. My problem is with folks who think that being good (in any sense) writers somehow requires our authors to smack down Alison with instant karmic justice. This story is a lot better than a 2 bit morality tale. Seer of Trope Sorry for misunderstanding. I thought you meant that the author should slap Alison down or else. weedgoku Even just someone frowning and saying “That was wrong” while she flies off flipping the bird would be a sigh of relief, to show that the authors give a shit. But they don’t. It’s a magical world where everyone who isn’t “a prick” just automatically agrees with Alison’s actions and mentality and actions which kind of neuters the whole “I can do anything I want and no one can stop me” thing. There’s nothing interesting about walking into a bank and taking all the money if everyone just smiles at you and tells you to go ahead, you’re doing the right thing. SJ Have you considered that there is not much depth to the formula of: You did wrong now everyone will be against it and you will be hit by karma backslash because that is how we know it is wrong? As opposed to the rich depth that exists within the formula of, “You did wrong, but nobody is the least bit bothered by it, except for the victim, whom nobody considers to be a victim, because he’s unlikeable, and you will suffer no real consequences, karmic or otherwise, because protagonist-centric morality”? I mean, seriously: everyone will be against it? How about the narrative shows even one person besides the victim be against it, before we try to make that argument? The closest thing to consequences that Alison has endured in this entire arc has been a couple panels of existential whinging on her part, and there are actually readers in the comments saying that she’s being too hard on herself! What the hell is interesting about a story in which the protagonist commits an atrocity, and everybody in the narrative, except for the character that the author has designated as the object of enmity, feels like her actions were justified? spriteless Well, she kept it secret. Noone blames me for when I do something they don’t know about. So far, 2 out of 3 people who know what Al did hate Al for it. Perhaps, now that she has told Professor Scar something, the truth will get out further and someone will figure out enough to blame her. Like, maybe the government is tailing her, and her therapist will hear a recording of this explanation. Alternately, the prick could decide that revenge is more important than his own safety through secrecy, and will pump up an assassin to kill her. Hmm, how does Cleaver feel about biodynamics blackmailing each other? SJ Well, she kept it secret. Noone blames me for when I do something they don’t know about. So far, 2 out of 3 people who know what Al did hate Al for it. … And the narrative appears to be leading us towards believing that both of those people are wrong to hate her for it, one, because she’s apparently meant to be seen as sympathetic and justified in her actions, and the other because he was a “prick,” who had it coming. Which part of how this arc has played, out to this point, is supposed to be the interesting part? spriteless The part where she has trouble deciding whether she should do it again. After all, the world is clearly a better place for the evil she did- she wouldn’t have done it if that wasn’t the plan. So, everything worked as planned, and she’s happy for that, but she still did evil. So, she is unsure whether she will do it again or not. She could: who is gonna stop the ubermensch? Another uber? She has been angsting about how being the other uber sucked since she took off her mask. A lot of human morals are to make people band together against enemies, or to keep from becoming enemies. How do you stop an enemy that banding together won’t stop? AKA, Al the tyrant? That’s the other interesting part. The world cannot punish her effectively, because she covered her tracks, and even if she didn’t she’s damn near invincible. Remove the normal solution to the problem of bad behavior, and what other answers are there? BTW, if you have a better solution than the comic team, please post it on fanfiction.net or archiveofourown.org and I will read it and give all the kudos and thumbs ups. I love reading fix-fics. Harness your hatred for good! Anyways, Gurawara, about as mortal and far from uber as one can get, is playing the best card he has in talking and keeping her on her toes. He knows when he can’t win a physical fight, I’m guessing because of those scars. SJ The part where she has trouble deciding whether she should do it again. After all, the world is clearly a better place for the evil she did- she wouldn’t have done it if that wasn’t the plan. So, everything worked as planned, and she’s happy for that, but she still did evil. So, she is unsure whether she will do it again or not. She could: who is gonna stop the ubermensch? Another uber? She has been angsting about how being the other uber sucked since she took off her mask. A lot of human morals are to make people band together against enemies, or to keep from becoming enemies. How do you stop an enemy that banding together won’t stop? AKA, Al the tyrant? That’s the other interesting part. The world cannot punish her effectively, because she covered her tracks, and even if she didn’t she’s damn near invincible. Remove the normal solution to the problem of bad behavior, and what other answers are there? You and I define “interesting” very differently. saysomethingclever For something to be interesting to you it has to maintain your interest. You are still here, reading, commenting, hating and debating. Ipso facto, you are interested. I actually think it shows excellent writing that everyone is so invested in how this turns out, even to the point of forgetting that we, the audience of readers, are the only witnesses to the crime. SJ For something to be interesting to you it has to maintain your interest. You are still here, reading, commenting, hating and debating. Ipso facto, you are interested. The only reason I’m still here is because I’m a sucker. And possibly a masochist. I keep coming back, like a mark at a carnival, because I keep waiting to see something that I am becoming increasingly convinced is never going to happen. saysomethingclever I actually can sympathize with this feeling. that’s exactly what happened to me when i was reading the “Twilight” novels. I read all five… and never got what i wanted. (sorry for responding 3 days late, just spotted this) spriteless Yup. But I’ve seen moralizing before. Message fics are interesting the first few you come across. And the first dozen or so times you come across them with effort put in them, like Star Trek or Watchmen. But with Gene gone Star Trek began to doubt the old ideals, and Hyperion doesn’t get a hint of possible retribution until the last page of the novel. And this was built up, to be certain. Al’s rant to Cleaver, Lisa’s speech, Patrick’s speech, Mary’s rampage, Hector’s rant, Violet’s manipulation, Max’s philosophy, and Gurawara’s philosophy all were leading up to this. I’m expecting this to be, rather than darling Allison being coddled, to be just another take on the same theme. If it’s not then OH WELL I SHALL EAT CROW. heh. But the waiting is killing us both, clearly. You know what might be good? A big page of text so the dialogue gets done quicker. I mean, the visual artform is great in and of itself, and is used great here, but… well… I’m used to how Erfworld will use a wall of text with a few pictures interspersed when pacing calls for it. saysomethingclever i agree so strongly i wish i could give this comment more upvotes. 🙂 weedgoku “At least SFP’s authors have no problems allowing readers to judge their characters, even if they themselves can’t do that.” Actually they used to heavily moderate the comments and just gave up on that because it was too hard to deal with. I think it was actually the whole max debacle that finally broke them. Anyway, as an author myself I’m going to have to disagree with you on this. My characters are not my children, I don’t want to protect them. Nor do I want to hurt them. I want to tell the story. A story requires dramatic tension, the readers need to be invested in it. If every conflict just ends with “And everything was okay, all the bad things were swept under the rug and the status quo was resumed” then why should anyone maintain interest? Why would you assume the next conflict is going to end any differently, especially with an author so increasingly afraid to put their favorite characters at any risk. Stagnation is the death of art. Ben Posin The kid was a prick. Feel your feelings, dude, but be aware that not all readers share your opinion that Alison deserves the sort of “consequences” that you seem to think she does. Or the belief that even if Alison DOES deserve such “consequences” on a moral level, that good writing means she necessarily should suffer them. weedgoku He was a prick, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to assault him. Being a prick doesn’t make him evil, it doesn’t make him less human than anyone else. Yet so many people justify his treatment because he was a jerk. It’s pretty messed up to blame a victim for what happens to them. And yes, good writing does in fact mean there should be reactions to actions. We have a term for characters who do nothing wrong and always come out smelling like roses, who’s only flaws are entirely inconsequential to the story and narrative or are even disregarded in favor of them incredibly perfect because the author demands it. Ben Posin Regarding your first point: if the comments of this comic are any indication, the debate is very much not settled as to whether it was ok to assault him in these circumstances in this manner, or whether his treatment was justified. This isn’t really an argument that is going to be settled by you trying to call me out for victim blaming. A (non-perfect) analogy that just occurred to me: in the United States at least, the government is vested with a power called “eminent domain,” where to meet a public need the government can forcibly purchase your property against your will and use it as it sees fit. If you decide to be a prick and stop the necessary road/subway/whatever from being built out of stubborn selfishness, and really stick to your guns, eventually we’ll reach a point where men with guns will come to take you away and lock you up, or even shoot you depending on how you resist. Now, I’m not going to claim that I’ve disposed of the problem, as one can argue that when it comes to using a power we are talking about enforced servitude/bodily autonomy, which is a different kettle of fish than real property, but we should be aware that right now, as a matter of law, people’s normal rights are abrogated by force for the common good all the time. Regarding your second point: yes, the meaningful things people do in fiction should have consequences and change them, and change how people see themselves and possibly how others see them. But that’s really not the same as the karmic backlash that people keep crying for. That’s so simplistic and not what this story is about at all. Try to appreciate subtler consequences and effects. One possible consequence, for example, might be that although some folks (like Max!) are pissed, Alison realizes that she can actually get away with enforcing her will on the world to a certain extent, and she now has to wrestle with that result and how to behave going forward. That sounds a lot like what we’re seeing. I’d hate to think I’m the only one genuinely interested in seeing what conclusions and decisions she comes to, and how it will change the balance of the world she lives in. It’s a theme that’s been consistently developed throughout the story in her interactions with other supers. I’ll end by saying that I find the idea that Alison is a Mary Sue (which I think you’re implying) to be laughable, but I’ve written enough for now as it is. weedgoku “eminent domain” refers to property, not people and Alison is not the government. She has zero right to force someone to do something. Breaking into someone’s home and threatening them with violence if they don’t do what you want is a crime. “But that’s really not the same as the karmic backlash that people keep crying for.” Tell me more about what other people are crying for then, because I love it when people think they know what I want more than I do. “I find the idea that Alison is a Mary Sue (which I think you’re implying) to be laughable” She’s pretty spot-on for one. Even her mistakes always turn out perfect for her. Ben Posin I really don’t know what to tell you. I like this story and am interested in seeing where it goes. Yessir, Alison committed a crime (though, again, one about which folks clearly have divided opinions as to whether it was nonetheless ethical, justified, necessary, or excusable). That’s a pretty natural progression given what’s been going on in this comic, and now that she’s done it and seen that she can improve the world through tyrannical, illegal, and perhaps morally questionable action, we’ll get to see what path she decides to go down, what lines she’ll draw. If that doesn’t sound like a good story to you, if Alison doesn’t seem like a character with some depth to you, well, I guess there’s no disputing taste. I’d hesitate to recommend other comics and stories to you as we really seem to get turned on by different things. weedgoku “I’d hesitate to recommend other comics and stories to you as we really seem to get turned on by different things.” You’d be surprised, I give anything a chance. I was actually planning on fielding a comment section wide request for recommendations once this chapter ended and I planned to move on. I was also going to toss up some of my favorites in return as a parting gesture of good will. Not to suggest they were better, but simply to share comics that were good and hopefully that other people would find good. SmilingCorpse Who said there isn’t a shadow cast? This has been visibly bothering Alison since it happened and I doubt a little chat with her professor with make it like it didn’t happen. And logistically speaking, what consequences could there be for the world’s most powerful woman? No jail could hold her. Even if she went willingly, that wouldn’t make for an interesting story. Zac Caslar Ahhhh, BUENO. Here comes the voice of reality. This is the tl;dr Allison: useful morality is a house built on a sandbar. Nothing’s concrete, last stability is an illusion, and only your own judgement saves you from disaster. Other people can aid or burden, but in the sum of it it’s you, your house, and the sandbar. God bless girl, I think you’re about to get wise(r). Sterling Ericsson I think most people would agree that absolute utilitarianism as a mindset would be bad. But utilitarianism as an option? In most cases, it turns out to indeed be for the best good to take the utilitarian choice. Not every case, but in most of them. In short, I agree with you. Zac Caslar And I like being agreed with! Huzzah, synergy! Plus it’s kinda the moment you realize that axioms themselves might be the problem. Are there no absolutes? And I ponder that aloud as someone otherwise enduringly respectful of seeing life as having inherent value. As someone who believes in the constant value of knowledge. But all the same seeking all possible best solutions means keeping all possible methods in mind. And that’s no recipe for a lifetime of sleeping the sleep of the innocent nevermind quantifying what’s “best.” So the journey is never ending and the necessity rarely flagging. Compared to that the lotus leaf salad of kneeling before revelation does make a kind of conserve-your-energy sense. I think it just doesn’t work. All this politics and philosophy isn’t important for it’s own sake it’s about refining survival strategies. And there is no central one. There are just balls we juggle and hope to keep aloft while we slowly narrow the number necessarily whirling down as far as we dare. Walter *snerk* Ok, that was funny. I hope he goes better places than “snitches get stitches” eventually, but I can’t deny that was a good line. GreatWyrmGold I like this professor a lot more now that I’m seeing what he’s like in his personal life. Something tells me that the same would be true of a good number of professionals. SmilingCorpse I would say it is for the most part. All the ethics teachers I’ve had were like Gurwara. They were pretty laid back. Weatherheight With the exception of one professor who got very annoyed at me when I pointed out a major flaw in her doctoral work (at least, as it appeared to me and based on her text), most professors and professionals aren’t bad folks; their professional choices don’t always reflect their personal lives. Been there, done that. Gotta eat. Lheticus Videre And so, Guwara proved himself more sensible than quite a few people in the comment section. Stephanie This is the most relatable Guwara has ever been Izo Annnd ….. I hate Gurwara again. Thank you. I get to hate Gurwara again, since now I see that the storyline is going to go to ‘It’s okay Alison, you were fine to do that because he’s someone you don’t like.’ Moral of the story. There is no repercussion for Alison being evil, and now she can keep being evil. Michael Smith Your definition of evil feels so Manichean (Thanks, WATCHMEN!) and childish and, ultimately, immoral. It would decimate and cripple good people with good intentions over their compromises and lack of purity and, in the end, that only ever leaves the monsters in charge. Kind of like what we’ve got going on now. After one of my first comments, you replied, “I hope you never get any real power.” That feeling is so very mutual. I love you, Gurwara! Thank god she’s got an actual adult to speak to. Get her some perspective. Philip Petrunak Reminds me of an excellent quote for the Goblins webcomic: “Heh heh. That’s why evil is winning. When two good creatures disagree, they assume the other to be evil, but when two evil creatures won’t assume each other to be good. They just…. Disagree.” Mechwarrior “Evil always triumph because good is dumb,” Dark Helmet Weatherheight “Lawful Good does not necessarily equal Lawful Stupid” – Walter Slovotsky MrSing “The wise man bowed his head solemnly and spoke: “There’s actually zero difference between good & bad things. You imbecile. You fucking moron”.” [email protected] Mechwarrior Only if you have a good GM. Stephanie Honestly I didn’t think that panel made much sense at all. “Evil” people who have incompatible goals will come into conflict. “Good” people who have incompatible goals will also come into conflict. I don’t see what difference it makes whether or not they think the party they’re in conflict with is on the other side of some metaphysical axis. Giacomo Bandini I guess the point is not the conflict, but the break of trust that follows the conflict. While evil is fondamentally individualistic, good relays on mutual trust. Both evil people and good people can coperate, but with different modality: evil people cooperate when it is convenient, and they betray each other the moment cooperation is no longer convenient. Good persons cooperate on the basisi of mutual trust: i will help you even when you are not in condition to help me, because i know that in the future you ll do the same for me, because we are both good. But once a conflict erupts, the good people will think each other evil, and refuse to cooperate even if a common goal emerges. To make a real life example: two mafia boss can have a bloody gang war between them, but later coopaerate for the common goal of getting control of a territory (and inevitably betray each other later); would an hard policeman and a political anarchist, after hurting each other in the past, ,maybe during a political manifestation, be able to set they difference apart and make a common front for stopping the mafia bosses to take control of their cities? Izo “Your definition of evil feels so Manichean (Thanks, WATCHMEN!) and childish and, ultimately, immoral. It would decimate and cripple good people with good intentions over their compromises and lack of purity and, in the end, that only ever leaves the monsters in charge. ” Actually, your definition is what would put monsters in charge. Every single time a strongman has risen to power, they’ve done so by making a scapegoat of someone they’ve pointed out as ‘bad’ and worthy of being forced against their will or killed to make the world a better place. Slavery. The Holocaust. Every single fascist state in history. Good intentions with evil actions does not make the actions less evil. Otherwise, I have YET to find a person to give me a straight answer about why a person shouldn’t go out, murder a healthy person, harvest their organs, and save the lives of 10 people with those organs. I have YET to find a person to give me a straight answer as to why people should not be forcibly strapped into chairs and have blood extracted from them on a monthly basis, under penalty of death if they refuse, since that will save millions of lives. The closest anyone ever gives me is a matter of scale – that it’s different depending on how many people are saved, as if there’s some magical number where 10 lives is not worth saving, but 100 are. Like a life has a quantifiable value compared to another life in raw ‘being alive’-ness. “After one of my first comments, you replied, “I hope you never get any real power.” That feeling is so very mutual. ” A pretty meaningless retort from you, actually, since if I have power, I’m not going to be abusing it for my subjective good intentions. Whereas you WOULD be. The difference is if someone with your mentality has power, I’m in danger from that person. If someone with my mentality has power, you’re NOT in danger from that person. Magma Sam >Otherwise, I have YET to find a person to give me a straight answer about why a person shouldn’t go out, murder a healthy person, harvest their organs, and save the lives of 10 people with those organs. I think I can take point on the utilitarian answer for this, since you asked for a straight answer, I’ll provide. This is the classic “murder somebody coming in for a doctoral visit in order to save these 5 people that need organs” problem. The answer to this is that there are general rules in society that do great amounts of good by being in place, and have rippling effects on wider society. Rules such as “I can expect not to be legally butchered by entering the doctor’s office”. If this was a thing that happened, then nobody would ever see the doctor, even when they were sick, and it’d do a whole mess of horrible stuff. The example you mentioned does it one worse, because it’s basically legalizing murder, and the societal and ethical collapse from that premise would reach far and wide. Izo “The answer to this is that there are general rules in society that do great amounts of good by being in place, and have rippling effects on wider society. Rules such as “I can expect not to be legally butchered by entering the doctor’s office”. If this was a thing that happened, then nobody would ever see the doctor, even when they were sick, and it’d do a whole mess of horrible stuff.” In the same vein, a person can expect to be in their house and listen to a proposal without being threatened with death and assaulted if they decline. Alison would probably be great at selling Girl Scout Cookies. “Hey mister, will you buy this box of cookies, it’s for a good cause.” “No thanks.” “If you don’t buy these cookies, you’re a bad person and selfish!” “Look I don’t want them. Go away.” “Buy these cookies or I will murder you.” “You’re a psycho! GO AWAY!” *grabs the man, slams his head against a table, twists his arm almost to the point of breaking it, and shoves cookies in his mouth* “BUY AND EAT THE DAMN COOKIES! I’LL KILL YOU IF YOU DONT BUY THE COOKIES!” “OKAY OKAY I’M BUYING THE COOKIES PLEASE DONT KILL ME! IT HURTS!” *takes the money, leaves the cookies* “I hope you take consolation in the fact that the money for these cookies will go to a good cause. I might be back later with some thin mints, and you will be buying them as well.” Magma Sam When applied here, this is a unique event instead of a constant application. There aren’t going to be 10 super girls policing around the city strong-arming half the citizens on a weekly basis, it’s a one time trade-off. So much so that the costs of breaking the ‘I can expect to not be threatened with being stranded in the atlantic ocean’ rule a singular time, are worth the benefits of “tens of thousands of people get +20 ish years to their life expectancy and vastly increased quality of life”. The cookies example is an obvious straw man, because it equivocates “thousands of people are saved” with “just some cookies”. I get that the general thrust of the … joke? sarcasm? condescension? not sure what to call it. Anyway I get that the point is to make the argument sound absurd, but it loses momentum when you excise the entire point of the argument. Though the casual equivocation of “buy a box of cookies” and “save ten thousand lives”, as if they may as well be the same thing, is at the crux of the dilemma, so that’s a thing at least. Izo “When applied here, this is a unique event instead of a constant application. There aren’t going to be 10 super girls policing around the city strong-arming half the citizens on a weekly basis, it’s a one time trade-off. So much so that the costs of breaking the ‘I can expect to not be threatened with being stranded in the atlantic ocean’ rule a singular time, are worth the benefits of “tens of thousands of people get +20 ish years to their life expectancy and vastly increased quality of life”.” Lets use a more realistic scenario then, since you don’t seem to like humor. There should be a law to force the donation of blood. If you refuse, police can break into our home, strap you to a chair, and remove one pint of your blood. They will then give you one month to recover, and do it again, unless you go in to voluntarily donate blood. Your belief system makes this idea supposedly reasonable. Also… you have 5 rooms in your house, two of which can be used as bedrooms. You are selfishly using one as a home office. There is a homeless crisis in the country. There should be a law that each citizen who has at least X rooms in their home must keep one room available for a homeless person to live in. If you do not comply (perhaps you selfishly cherish your privacy, or maybe you feel uneasy about having a stranger living in your house), then an agent of the government will administer a beating upon you, then allow a homeless person to live in one of the rooms of your house. Your belief structure says this law is acceptable as well. Magma Sam I do like humor, I just feel like in this context it leads to thinly veiled insults rather than actual jokes. I want this to be a nice polite discussion. “Compulsory Blood Donation example” Implementing such a law would be difficult, and the value of a single pint of blood would hardly be worth the cost of breaking into a house, nevermind keeping track of everybody for this purpose. Do I think that if we could instill a set of societal norms where healthy people “pay” a pint of blood the first time each month they go in for a checkup, that we would be better off? Definitely. It’s a solution I’d much prefer to breaking into houses for blood raids. We already have done some good with the “opt in v opt out” sets of sociology in terms of organ donors post-death, as an example of societal changes and using how we think to get more good done. “Homelessness people living in our houses example” Homeless shelters already attempt to serve this purpose, and are much more efficient than stocking homeless people in with other citizens. If we were aiming to fix this problem via making people give up their own space to those that had none, we’d be better off annexing property districts and rebuilding them into giant shelters. That’s more of a capitalism v communism thing in regards to how we as a society value the distribution of property, and is only adjacent to utilitarianism. Izo “I do like humor, I just feel like in this context it leads to thinly veiled insults rather than actual jokes. I want this to be a nice polite discussion.” It was not an insult. If you want to take it as an insult though, I’m not responsible for any oversensitivity on anyone else’s behalf. “Implementing such a law would be difficult, and the value of a single pint of blood would hardly be worth the cost of breaking into a house, nevermind keeping track of everybody for this purpose.” 1) Considering the comparison we have is to a superhuman strongest human being to ever live who is utterly invulnerable, able to fly, and untouchable by the law, I find it a little cheap for you to use that as a reason for it being impractical. This is a thought experiment on why utilitarianism is a bad idea. However, even if the government was only able to track 1/4th of the citizenry, it would still fulfill all blood drive needs forever. As for the cost of breaking into the house, no more so than the cost of arresting someone for income tax evasion. Call it the blood tax and they’ll do the same thing with blood tax evasion. If you don’t want your blood forcibly taken from you, you can be put in jail, during which they will take your blood anyway. Or, if you’d prefer, sure – make it where healthy people pay a pint of blood every time they go for a checkup. Law of unintended consequences? People fear the doctors and will not go. Communicable diseases spread. Underground doctors pop up with unsanitary conditions, causing more disease and death. Not to mention the whole lack of personal liberties which you seem to gloss over, as if you’d be comfortable living in North Korea. “Homeless shelters already attempt to serve this purpose, and are much more efficient than stocking homeless people in with other citizens.” Spoken like someone who has never seen a homeless shelter in their lives 🙂 And again, I love how you try to evade the fact that, based on utilitarian design, the hypotheticals I put forth are a good idea. “If we were aiming to fix this problem via making people give up their own space to those that had none, we’d be better off annexing property districts and rebuilding them into giant shelters. That’s more of a capitalism v communism thing in regards to how we as a society value the distribution of property, and is only adjacent to utilitarianism.” Utilitarianism IS very much like communism, actually. And again – look at the example I gave you. It works without having to build anything. All the cost is passed onto the rich people who can afford to have extra rooms in their house, and after all, don’t you hate those selfish rich people? Stephanie “I find it a little cheap for you to use that as a reason for it being impractical. This is a thought experiment on why utilitarianism is a bad idea.” Simplified hypotheticals divorced from real-world context have their place in discussions of ethics. However, when you’re trying to argue “your axiom is wrong because it should require you to do this horrible thing in the real world,” your hypothetical needs to pose a horrible thing that a person/society with that axiom actually would be required to do in the real world. Magma has already explained at length why, in the real world, forced blood donations and organ thefts wouldn’t be worth the cost from a utilitarian perspective. Therefore, utilitarianism does not require doing those things in the real world, full stop. You keep asking, in essence, “why don’t we do X if it’s for the greater good,” but you’ve already heard the answer: because it wouldn’t be for the greater good. Magma explaining why your ideas wouldn’t work isn’t “evading the fact that, based on utilitarian design, the hypotheticals I put forth are a good idea.” Your ideas being factually good is not a premise of this discussion, and it is entirely appropriate for Magma to counter with reasons that they are not. Magma Sam “It was not an insult. If you want to take it as an insult though, I’m not responsible for any oversensitivity on anyone else’s behalf.” I’m not sensitive at all, I was just pointing out that it was phrased in a condescending manner. I could phrase my argument against deontology by saying it’s an inherently greedy, selfish manner of speaking that doesn’t care one whit about the suffering and lives of anybody else, and values “Keep muh hands clean” over literally everything else. However, I know phrasing it in that manner would come off as degrading anybody who does take that position, and I personally don’t think you value people’s lives and their suffering as functionally nothing. Regarding the blood example… You’re listing actions that can be taken that would result in a world better than our present one. They require wide scope power to implement, and a manner of sidestepping the costs, and at that point we can ask “is this really the best solution, given what resources we apparently have access to”? There are steps that can be taken from this initial plan to make it more acceptable to the Utilitarian AND the Deontologist, “at the same time”. “Or, if you’d prefer, sure – make it where healthy people pay a pint of blood every time they go for a checkup. Law of unintended consequences? People fear the doctors and will not go. Communicable diseases spread. Underground doctors pop up with unsanitary conditions, causing more disease and death.” Note that my example here was predicated on “instilling a set of societal norms”. A lot of what we are and are not willing to do is based on the framing of society around us. Also, there would be no “fear of doctors”. This isn’t compulsory, the check-up is just contingent on it. If you want, you could totally go in, talk to them, and leave without giving blood. Hell, if you prefer, we could make it optional entirely and give a “Macy’s Discount” for giving blood. By Macy’s Discount, I’m referring to a common branch of stores that often gives 75% discounts on select items. However, the base prices are inflated such that it is only a reasonable price when at that 75% discount, and horribly overcosted when at full price. Similarly, society could give a $50 discount to medical bills, and then raise those bills by $50. Or give an actual discount, if you’re trying not to be an ass about it, the Macy’s Discount just keeps the pricing the same despite offering a monetary incentive. “Spoken like someone who has never seen a homeless shelter in their lives :)” Aka regarding the homelessness example… Homeless shelters not being ideal isn’t a counter to the point that they are better in function than just stocking random homeless people in every house. It’s more space efficient for one, but the bigger point is that people have locks on their house doors for a reason, and that there is a reason we put a value on privacy. Every time you lost your cell phone or misplaced your wallet you’d have to wonder “hey, did that homeless dude swipe it on his way out to work”? All ignoring the fact that if we wanted to give homeless people more space to live, we’d be way better off looking into other mediums first. Such as the football stadiums, do a little construction work, convert into massive free living complexes. Sure it’d interrupt sports… but it’s far less intrusive than just sticking them in our houses. “Utilitarianism IS very much like communism, actually. And again – look at the example I gave you. It works without having to build anything. All the cost is passed onto the rich people who can afford to have extra rooms in their house, and after all, don’t you hate those selfish rich people?” Construction is not the only possible cost to actions, I listed some of the costs above. If nothing else, the literal segmenting of the houses such that people could even attempt a modicum of safety would be a construction cost. Utilitarianism isn’t strictly communism, although they often share common goals. Michael Smith Your comparisons to slavery and the holocaust are kind of broad and off base. Why you think you can compare Alison twisting a guy’s arm to such things is….almost unbalanced. That is like saying pasta and hydrogen are just the same! It makes no sense! Alison wasn’t scapegoating him. SHe didn’t create a propaganda campaign demonizing him or people like him. She used force to get him to do something, yeah. It’s not the same. Why do you think this bizarre comparison makes sense? BUt here’s a good reason not to murder a healthy person for organs: It sucks. Just evil. Any child could tell you that. So someone has answered you. Now, I asked you a month ago or so: Would you twist Max’s arm for five seconds, causing him no real harm, if it would prevent a million people from dying? Or would you let them all die because forcing him to use his powers against his will is some torture/rape that is beyond evil? You haven’t answered that yet. What would you do? Let them all die? Because those five seconds of discomfort aren’t worth saving their lives? You say I’d be safe in a world where you have power because you wouldn’t abuse it for your subjective good intentions. But if you did have power, you would have already condemned almost a thousand people to die of organ failure. A thousand people dead, needlessly, because your morals wouldn’t allow for the smallest compromise. I see that world with you in charge collapsing entirely. Massive pain and suffering. And you at the center, smug and safe with your perfect morality intact. That’s not a world I feel safe in at all. And not for nothing, but we JUST NOW put a strong man in power. And it didn’t happen because he had some some noble cause that was eventually perverted by some slippery slope. He rose to power because people on the left couldn’t support a good woman trying to help others– because she didn’t adhere to their unyieldingly perfect and idealists vision of morality. Sound familiar? That’s what let this current strongman into power. People who couldn’t make any moral, realistic compromises. I’m sure some of them would agree with you about Alison. And not for nothing, when a bunch of people were freaking out about Trump coming after LGBT people in the comments section, your response was “I’m pretty sure LGBTQ don’t have that much to worry about with a Trump presidency based on his past speeches and actions.” We know that that is bullshit. With every cabinet appointment and all these upcoming religious freedom laws and trans bathroom laws, he’s perfectly happy to let his appointees throw LGBTs under any kind of bus they like. Strip them of rights and humanity. Yet your first instinct was to defend him. And max. See a pattern? It’s funny. What kind of world do you think that leads to? The one with you in charge–where the powerful and the status quo are defended over those trying to create changes for the powerless? Not one I’d wanna be in. Izo https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrqsh-Nu7J8 Michael Smith I’m not watching a half hour film that you send to me without comment. And again, you comparing Alison’s twisting a guy’s arm for five seconds (in order to save countless lives) to nazi concentration camps is a slap in the face to anyone who has ever lost family to a genocide, including me. It’s trolling, Izo. It’s poor and childish behavior. It’s acting like a brat. Can’t you understand that? I’m actually giving you the benefit of the doubt here that it’s not your intention, but now I’m really not so sure. It’s getting into Ann Coulter territory. And it doesn’t seem like anything can shame you out of it. You’d think this historical moment might shift your perspective a little but no. You’ll just repeat your faulty logic endlessly with these bizarre, outrageous comparisons. You demand answers to the random givens you declare to be facts yet won’t answer my questions. I think you honestly believe you’re acting really well here…but that’s not really true. Which is too bad. You’re indefatigable, and that is very impressive. It really is. I just wish you would use for better purposes. Izo “I’m not watching a half hour film that you send to me without comment.” Then be ignorant of the response. That’s fine too. Michael Smith So I watch this and then what? I link you to a 500-page novel about the selfish immortality of inaction and expect you to study it? Ethics and morality and arm twisting aside, that’s just obnoxious! It’s an obnoxious thing to do—to assign someone homework. And those weren’t attacks. I’m honestly asking you to think of the morality of these comparisons—to rape and nazis and such. There’s something very wrong with that. That lack of scale, how the absurdity distorts all reason. I think you should consider it. Izo “So I watch this and then what?” No you watch this very well-spoken lecture, which does not involve reading for HOURS, and try to be at least the slightest bit open minded to the idea that Alison did IS the path to totalitarianism and how utilitarianism almost universally winds up leading to fascism and loss of freedom for anyone not in power, since man is flawed and utilitarianism relies on man to decide who’s lives are more important and which abstract ideas are more important. And woe be you if you happen to be the one that is judged to not be important enough to have your personal liberties protected. But you don’t want to do that. You want to lecture, then heaven forbid someone who apparently has spent 40 years has a lecture which is extremely on point to what you said in response – you’ll just put your fingers in your ears and ignore it. You already seem to ignore everything I’ve said about what I’m making an analogy to when it comes to fascism, rape, and such – the mentality of the perpetrator of the crime. I truly do hope no one ever decides that a massive greater good does not involve having to torture you. Don’t worry – I’d be still willing to defend your right to not be tortured just because someone else thinks it will help more people, even though you wouldn’t do the same for me. Everything you wrote in the second part WAS an ad hominem or a personal attack, and if you’re claiming it wasn’t, then you’re just being intellectually dishonest or just trolling. Read what you wrote, even if you’re not going to write what I write or listen to what I linked. Michael Smith Okay, I think i’m seeing something here. You seem to think that you get to judge and compare any action to the hysterical extreme you believe that action leads to. You don’t. Or should not. You should not do that. It’s ridiculous. You have an intellectually responsibility to see things reasonably in context. Do you hear yourself? So what Alison did is an inevitable path to totalitarianism, fascism and loss of freedom? Do you not see how crazy that sounds? Yes, yes, yes, you add some wordy crap about how it’s just an analogy and “the mentality or morality of the perpetrator” or whatever, but it still comes down to the same thing: You falsely and hysterically conflating Alison to Nazis and genocide and rape and whatnot. It’s intellectually irresponsible. I’d like to see you say that crap to someone who’s actually survived a genocide. Maybe the horror on their faces would shame you out of these dramatics. And to top that off, you’re totally unwilling to be remotely responsible for the paralysis that inevitably follows that type to extreme logic. And it wasn’t torture. It was an arm twist. And what if there were no other answers? That Max was still a no after bribes and everything else? Your answer is still no? You wouldn’t twist his arm to save a million lives if there were no other choices? And if your answer is really still no and you’re willing to let a million die, consider that. The pain and suffering you’d allow to preserve your own conscience. Is that morality? Is that decency? Humanity? People sometimes do face horrible decisions like that. And yeah, i hope you never, ever have that power. I’d rather live in a world of slight moral compromise than one of horror because of your ultimate purity. Frankly, I’m starting to live with the consequences of that childishness now. Today, a racist attorney general will prob be confirmed and my new president just fired all the people in charge of maintaining the nation’s nuclear stockpile. The world’s never been in more danger. And a LOT of that is because a certain idealistic segment of our population couldn’t stop tearing down a good and brilliant woman for her minor moral compromises. And that opened a door for this monster. Were you one of them? Someone who couldn’t abide Hillary because of her flaws? Why do I think maybe you were? Please correct me if I’m wrong. I hope I am. If you were, do you feel any responsibility for what will happen under a Trump administration? That’s an actual question. I’m honestly curious. AS for trolling, when you say Alison saved one person, you’re ignoring the text. You’re just lying. There’s a reason the doctors were cheering. Feral was saving a fraction of those people. And how can you know her power will evolve to save them all. Oh, THAT you know for sure?! You can’t impose your own fantasies onto someone else’s fictions and make them givens to satisfy your own moral outrage. It’s a dishonest way to approach art. It’s creepy. And i wasn’t trying to attack you. I always thought you approached this sincerely. Now I’m wondering if you’re just a smart ukrainian teenager having a laugh under several different identities and pushing buttons. Izo “Okay, I think i’m seeing something here. You seem to think that you get to judge and compare any action to the hysterical extreme you believe that action leads to. ” Starting with a personal attack…. “And it wasn’t torture. It was an arm twist.” How about I twist your arm almost to the point of breaking it, with you having the knowledge that I can easily break it, after slamming your head into a table and threatening to dump you in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to die. I think you’re the type of person who talks a big game when it’s not something happening to you, from what you’re saying here. I’m assuming that if Alison had waterboarded him, you’d think that’s torture instead though, right? “AS for trolling, when you say Alison saved one person, you’re ignoring the text. You’re just lying.” Continue with personal attacks…. Also, I’m not lying. People would have been saved whether or not Alison did what she did to Max, since Feral was voluntarily donating her organs anyway, and she would have naturally evolved her anomaly eventually, just as Alison naturally evolved from jumping high to flying, since it’s already been stated in the comic that they are all evolving their anomalies (during the Alison/Cleaver fight). In addition, she had no way to know just how effective using Max would be, since Max has not used his powers since he was 14, and so there couldn’t have been a lot of testing on those capabilities, especially on Feral, who he never ‘boosted’ before, so they have no basis for why she would think it would have worked as it did. “And how can you know her power will evolve to save them all. Oh, THAT you know for sure?!” Because it was stated in the comic that all the supers’ anomalies were evolving – Cleaver said it, and then Alison said it as well as the doctor later on. So yes, THAT I know for sure. Because they actually said it outright with at least some empirical basis to know it was happening, while Alison’s theory on Max boosting Feral had NO empirical basis at all. “It’s a dishonest way to approach art. It’s creepy.” Third personal attack… “And i wasn’t trying to attack you. ” For someone who isnt trying to attack me, you sure are attacking me a lot. “I always thought you approached this sincerely. Now I’m wondering if you’re just a smart ukrainian teenager having a laugh under several different identities and pushing buttons.” Fourth personal attack, while throwing in a conspiracy theory and apparently a ‘Russian hackers did it’ theory since that’s all the rage right now. Michael Smith But to be clear, this is the fourth or fifth time I’ve asked you: You have to twist max’s arm for five seconds of discomfort to save a million lives. Or they die. Do you? Or is that still just a bridge too far? In a world where you compare Alison to Nazis, I get to ask you that question. Izo Actually it’s not the fourth or fifth time you’ve asked me, but since I’m not omniscient and do not KNOW that doing that will save lives (and lets face it, Alison did not know because he plan was idiotic in the sheer lack of information she had as to the outcome), no, I would try to pay him off with, say, 25 million dollars for an hour’s work. Or see if my supergenius friend could come up with a way to do the same thing for the world with artificial organs or cloning technology. Not to mention she wasn’t saving millions of lives. She was saving ONE life. Feral’s. Who did not want to be saved, and she herself was already saving those lives, and in the future as her anomaly increased, she would be saving millions of lives anyway. Alison just sped up the inevitable. Also you’re GROSSLY misstating what Alison did, to minimize it. Which is almost 1984 Ministry of Truth-ish in how you’re doing it. She didnt just ‘twist someone’s arm.’ She threatened to murder him, and was fully willing to back up that threat by actually doing it, knowing that no force on the planet is capable of punishing her. So no, even if I DID exactly what Alison did, the difference is I would expect and DESERVE to be punished and incarcerated for it. And I would be. Alison doesn’t get punished for her act though. She hides it, like a criminal. Because that’s what she is. She’s a criminal. A criminal with GREAT power, and no responsibility, which is pretty much what you do NOT want someone with great power to have as a flaw. SmilingCorpse This is an oversimplification to the nth degree. First of all, lack of consequences doesn’t equal free reign to re-offend. Secondly, passive dismissal doesn’t equal approval. Finally, That is not even close to being the moral. Life is full of nuance, not completely black and white. Izo “This is an oversimplification to the nth degree.” No, it’s a basic understanding of human behavior. Carrot and stick. Alison’s got all carrots for her behavior. No stick. “First of all, lack of consequences doesn’t equal free reign to re-offend. ” Yes it does. If there are no consequences whatsoever for committing a crime, are you really going to argue that people will not commit more crimes? “Secondly, passive dismissal doesn’t equal approval.” The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Then again this is supposing that Gurwara is in any way a good man. Or that anyone is good in this fictional universe, which is seeming less and less the case. Yes, if you out of hand dismiss someone’s evil act, that is tacit approval of that act. “Finally, That is not even close to being the moral.” Yes it is exactly the moral. Might makes right, and if you do something evil to someone else for what you believe subjectively will be a greater good, you’re totally justified to do it for the simple fact that you are stronger than the other person. Nothing bad will happen to you, although you might feel a little guilty, but don’t worry, the guilt will be less each time you do more evil for what you subjectively have deemed good, and if no one can stop you, there’s no reason to stop yourself either. SmilingCorpse “No, it’s a basic understanding of human behavior. Carrot and stick. Alison’s got all carrots for her behavior. No stick.” Almost all oversimplifications use basic understanding of the topic. So I don’t see how this disproves my point. “Yes it does. If there are no consequences whatsoever for committing a crime, are you really going to argue that people will not commit more crimes?” It’s been proven that people tend to govern themselves in a lawless environment. I’ll direct you to Alternatehistoryhub’s video on the purge as it uses they same logical reasoning and he can explain it much better than I can. https://youtu.be/VEmr36AJm54?t=2m1s (Link starts at the point relevant to our conversation) “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. Then again this is supposing that Gurwara is in any way a good man. Or that anyone is good in this fictional universe, which is seeming less and less the case. Yes, if you out of hand dismiss someone’s evil act, that is tacit approval of that act.” While I don’t disagree with with your rebuttal outright, there is a disturbing lack of nuance. The quote you mentioned isn’t a one size fits all saying. Max was pretty much opposing as much as one could against the most powerful being in the world. Am I saying Max is good? Am I saying Allison did something evil? I leave that to the plethora of opinions elsewhere on this page. The point being, there is MUCH more to it than that. “Yes it is exactly the moral. Might makes right, and if you do something evil to someone else for what you believe subjectively will be a greater good, you’re totally justified to do it for the simple fact that you are stronger than the other person. Nothing bad will happen to you, although you might feel a little guilty, but don’t worry, the guilt will be less each time you do more evil for what you subjectively have deemed good, and if no one can stop you, there’s no reason to stop yourself either.” Clearly Alison feels terrible for what she did and is distraught by it. So I don’t see how this section of your rebuttal enters in to that. The point isn’t retribution, how would that work logistically? Alison is stopping herself by trying to figure out how to avoid these pitfalls in the future. But is working in a circle and worrying herself sick over it. Guwara simply wasn’t to break her of that loop. As for might makes right? That way of thinking doesn’t exactly work in this day and age. Alison knows this. Matrix No Repercussions? Well, for one, she committed a crime. True a crime for “the greater good” but a crime none the less. She is not evil. For another, there are repercussions, you can see them starting now. You see, she is feeling crushing defeat and a self doubt that is crippling her ability to do good things and the lack of self confidence, that self doubt, is stopping her from going forward. She will always be plagued by it and always measure herself based on her failures. It is what every human does. But what every human should do is balance that out with their successes. Life is not perfect and it is impossible to be perfect. We need to be ok with this. It is our mistakes as much as our successes that make us human and make us compassionate. She is not going to ever forget the feeling of forcing someone to do your will. The feeling of power that she had in controlling someone else, knowing that you could end it. That “dead inside” feeling that also was there was her feeling bad about doing something bad. Now if you are talking no legal repercussions, then I would say that we have yet to see if she will “get away with it”. Something else to take into account in our world (you know reality) people that are powerful or beautiful often get away with doing bad things. It is common. Common enough to be a trope. She is both powerful and beautiful and a celebrity. If anyone can “Get away with it” it is her. But the internal struggle is what is shown in an open manner, often you see this type of struggle as an internal, secret battle, in writing. She is actually talking to multiple people. Sooner or later someone will blab and someone will take objection. But in the mean time, She is stopping herself from helping for fear that she is harming them. It Is all very human. Which is the point. And Gurwara is simply reminding her in a subtle way that you need to move on. Go past the thing you did and live on. He is also, in his very simply way, stating that he doesn’t blame her for treating a bad person badly. There is a definite lack of caring about a crime on a person that is being a bad person but with in the social limitations of what is barely (currently) acceptable behavior but still recognized as bad. The term Douche comes to mind. Some would see that as “Karma” which is a gross misuse of the word. But in this case it is, “You do bad things, you get bad things happen to you.” She was the dealer of karma but chose to use the karma to help another. An ending of a cycle some would say but still a bad thing to do. She committed a crime. I am sure we all have committed a crime or two. Some with out knowing it and some with out understanding it. I mean as babies we all take stuff from other people with out being given them. We are taught right from wrong. It is not something we inherently have. We just act before the age of reason and a certain amount of learning takes place. SJ … Some would see that as “Karma” which is a gross misuse of the word. But in this case it is, “You do bad things, you get bad things happen to you.”… Bad things like what? What bad things did Max Prescott do? Matrix Oh, nothing that isn’t socially acceptable. He is represented as a selfish person that has no concept of the prejudice that he has. The workers for his family for one. He shows that he has little caring for another persons plight and sees his selfishness as his given right. He has broken the law by not registering that he is a person with powers (forget the term) after he discovered that his mom lied and made an exception for him and hid him, then being a law abiding citizen he should have registered when he turned 18, a legal adult. But that didn’t happen. So in effect he is a criminal. It is all about degrees here. Allison is going for absolutism which never works. The world doesn’t have absolutes. Well, it does in theory, such as “absolute zero” as a temp. But even that has a scientific theoretical definition that we don’t know if we can actually physically achieve, but I digress. Max Prescott is a person that has a number of prejudices that are inherent to being of a rich family. He also is whiny and entitled. None of which is against the law and even truly reprehensible. He has commuted some minor crimes and hsi family has as well. Hiding who he is is one. Hiring illegals is another. I wonder how the fire that he was rescued from was started but that is neither here nor there. But the fact remains that he has committed a crime and his family has committed a crime These are all minor, especially compared to the crime that Allison commits: Forced labor of a specialized skill and kidnapping with assault involved (the harming of his arm). His crime is minor when compared. But it is undeniable that he did commit or was complacent in at least 2 crimes. Who knows if he did register if the world would force him to use his powers or just leave him alone. But socially, he has committed a number of acts that are socially acceptable. Still wrong, morally, but acceptable. There may be more that he has done that is not discovered but it is possible. We all have flaws. This all said: I don’t condone Allison’s treatment of Max. She committed a much greater crime. I was simply pointing out that some could consider it as “karma” for being such a dick. And being the dealer of that “karma” Allison sinks herself into a guilt pit. It was still her choice and she will live with it until the end of her days or some time travel kerfuffle will happen. As I said, the “karma” word is misused entirely. The actual meaning is that your deeds in life good and bad will have good and bad repercussions in your NEXT life. That is the actual meaning. In common parlance, it means that you will get bad things happen to your (and good) based on the good or bad things that you do in this life. A significantly different meaning. I still think that Allison has some problems coming to her in the future from this criminal act. Some will applaud and some will hate. Most will want to simply forget it and shove it under the rug, like it didn’t happen. And often that group will say that it is “ok” because she has done so much good and the act of committing the crime has done a lot of good. SJ Oh, nothing that isn’t socially acceptable. He is represented as a selfish person that has no concept of the prejudice that he has. The workers for his family for one. He shows that he has little caring for another persons plight and sees his selfishness as his given right. Those are things he believes, not things he has done. He has broken the law by not registering that he is a person with powers (forget the term) after he discovered that his mom lied and made an exception for him and hid him Cite? In response to the question of why Alison didn’t know about Max’s anomaly, Page 84 of this issue says that Max’s mother “… pulled some strings at the DBRD.” It neither states that Max was not registered, nor that it was a crime, even if he isn’t. Also, I just re-read Issue 4, which contains the origin story, and it doesn’t mention anything in there about registration, either. So where are you even getting this from? … Hiring illegals is another… That’s something his parents did; what did Max do? Your list appears to consist of things that Max believes in, but has not been shown to have acted on, something that he has not done personally, and one thing that, as far as I know, you just made up. For this, “bad things” should happen to him? Matrix Ok, to me it seemed to imply that there was some sort of official registration for them. Also, I didn’t say that they should have happened to him. I stated that it was a crime and Allison should not have done it. That some would see it as a form of “karma”. True, being a dick is not a crime. Feeling callous and a lack of empathy for your fellow human is not a crime. He truly didn’t DO anything to deserve it, that we know of. The sediment that the author is making here, that I interpret anyway, is that he was a bad person and the act of crime that she committed created a lot of good, so the act is justifiable, in society’s eyes. This does not excuse it. This does not truly condone it. But the crime is acceptable by society. The second part of that is that she is feeling crippling guilt over this and feels that because she has such great power that this is the first step on the slippery slope of justifying herself in doing other heinous acts and being a tyrant. The first step towards the “might makes right (As long as it is for the greater good)” and that would be the good that only she believes in. I feel that she still committed a crime and that with the number of people that she is talking to it will, in the future come to light. Her motivation was “for the greater good” and a case can be made that her actions helped thousands and the rights of the person that chose NOT to act are superseded by all the good that one act of crime has created. Life can be ugly. This brings to light the old “With great power..” adage. But extends it to the part of, what if someone HAS great power and doesn’t use it. Are they in the wrong for refusing to help. The fact of having the ability but not the motivation or the will to do so, is that a crime? Does it supersede free will? Which morality do you choose and where does it begin and stop? These are philosophical questions, ones with no real answer. But back to your issue here: Does being a dick warrant the poor treatment that he was given? Does his attitude and his feelings warrant what was done to him? That is the possible “karma” situation. I say, no, what was done was still a crime. Some crimes can be forgivable if the correct motivation and result are beneficial or at least causing very little real harm. If we can’t forgive some crimes with good results then our country should never go to war, ever. Our population will be killed off entirely over the long run. There have been LOTS of justifications made. People get assaulted by the police if the police feel that they committed a crime. True the “assault” is in the process of bringing them in. And by that, I don’t mean the shootings or anything. I mean physically grabbing and handcuffing them is a form of assault. Most of what I have typed is how I feel that society will see it, not as I see it. There is a difference. I see it as the simple fact that she committed a crime. She is punishing herself relentlessly but that is not obvious to others that are not her friends or at least friendly (such as her teacher) to her. It can be argued that Max committed a crime (morally) in not helping others. It is not a crime on the books, so does that make it ok? I don’t know. True, His parents hired the illegals. He is aware that they are illegal or suspects that they are and is an accessory in that crime, which is a crime. Guilty in keeping it hidden from authorities and you can bet that it will be in the list of crimes he will be brought up on, if it is discovered and if he has done lots more other crimes. But, NO, you are correct. As far as we have seen he has done nothing personally to commit a crime. Having poor character flaws is, legally, not a crime. Morally? Hmm, don’t know, but most humans will have at least SOME flaws in this respect. SJ True, His parents hired the illegals. He is aware that they are illegal or suspects that they are… Do we know that, though? I mean, I’d have to go back and check but, if it isn’t explicitly stated that Max knows that the workers are illegals, then we don’t even know that they actually are illegals. I can personally verify that illegals aren’t the only people who allow themselves to get paid under the table, and forfeit their ability to negotiate for better wages/working conditions. It is certainly most likely that they are, but it seems within Max’s character to not examine such things very closely: I get the sense that he didn’t know, and wasn’t interested in finding out. Matrix No, we do not know for certain that they are illegally living in the united states. Ok, poor of me to make the assumption. Some assumptions are made in any situation and I chose the most common reason for someone to be paid under the table for landscaping in California. BUT, “Paid Under the table” means that they are not paying employment taxes. Which is a crime on Max’s family’s part. At least we can agree on that terminology. So, tax evasion crime on the employer. And, no, Max does not appear to be the type of person to look into the situation, especially if it doesn’t directly concern him. If you want to split hairs, even assuming that he doesn’t look into things is just as valid assumption as it is that he does. So, Maybe Max is a good person and maybe his family is honestly doing their workers a favor. I don’t know. Maybe the workers are actually spies for the government to keep an eye on Max to make sure he does not use his powers. Which would explain why they are there so late and why they are “under the table” being undercover. But maybe they are not. In either case: 1. Allison did commit a crime because she could and because she thought she could. Possibly as a way to show Max that is is being a selfish big A. And the benefit is helping a lot. 2. She is hurting about her decision and punishing herself mentally. 3. She will probably get away with the crime for a number of reasons. (secrecy, being powerful, being beautiful, being popular, ect) 4. Max may want revenge or me may see that he is needed (unlikely) and help. He may also just simply give up the worry. We don’t know yet. 5. In all likelihood Allison will be found out due to the number of people she is talking to. 6. Her Philosophy professor seems unconcerned with her quandary, making little of it. Perhaps he has more faith in humanity than he professes or simply doesn’t want to get mixed up in it. Who knows, too early to tell. We shall see where the story goes. SJ For the record, I have not stipulated that Max is a good person. I don’t know that he is a good person… I don’t particularly think that he is a good person; he may well be as big a prick as everyone says he is. But, as I’ve said before, quoting the great American philosopher Simon Phoenix, you can’t take away people’s right to be assholes. I don’t believe in Karma, and neither do I self-identify as a utilitarian, so I’m not a proponent of the “It’s okay if Alison commits a ‘little’ atrocity*, if it helps enough people” point of view. I would like to see Alison be subject to consequences which exceed the self-flagellation that we’ve seen to this point. And I get the sense that, to some of the readers who disagree with me, they see no difference between “more than this” and a never-ending Humiliation Conga. *And, again, within the context of this story arc, it seems like a ‘little’ atrocity is one that happens to somebody else. Kifre Max explicitly states that the gardeners are illegal: https://strongfemaleprotagonist.com/issue-6/page-68-3/ SJ Max explicitly states that the gardeners are illegal: Ah, so. Are you of the opinion, then, that what Alison did to him was justice/proportionate retribution? Kifre Oh no, I’m just a pedant who knew which page to double check 🙂 Izo “No Repercussions? Well, for one, she committed a crime. True a crime for “the greater good” but a crime none the less” That is not a repercussion. Commmitting a crime is not a repercussion. A repercussion is an unintended and unwelcome consequence occurring some time after an event or action. The crime is the event or action, not the repercussion. “She is not evil.” I’m sure many evil people think they did their crimes for the greater good, or for some reason which excuses their crime. Heck, I’ve seen people make excuses for their crimes on a daily basis before I changed my job (I worked in alternative dispute resolution for family court, then in the DA’s office). “For another, there are repercussions, you can see them starting now.” Guilt is the lame duck of repercussions, since it’s not unexpected unless you’re a sociopath. I’ve been saying this since the story arc started, that if she gets ANY repercussions, it will be something lame and ineffectual, like ‘she feels guilty and emo, boo hoo.’ And I was right, it seems. No punishment. No negative results to her or to her plan. Hell, even Gurwara is supportive of her. Gotta be supportive of the precious tyrannical speshul snowflake, right? Guh…. “Now if you are talking no legal repercussions, then I would say that we have yet to see if she will “get away with it”.” I’m talking legal AND moral repercussions. As in moral of the story. I’m talking storyline repercussions. “She is actually talking to multiple people.” She’s only talked to Gurwara, not multiple people. And apparently he’s supportive of her because ‘reasons.’ Apparently he only believes that tyrannical actions are bad when he’s being paid. “Sooner or later someone will blab and someone will take objection.” Annnnd do what? Nothing. I’m predicting nothing. “There is a definite lack of caring about a crime on a person that is being a bad person but with in the social limitations of what is barely (currently) acceptable behavior but still recognized as bad.” 1) Bad as described from the person who abused said ‘bad person.’ Alison isnt exactly credible. And Gurwara is suddenly very different in his reactions than he was in class. 2) Then by this definition, in the classroom, Alison should have gone over to Gurwara after class and told him that if he doesn’t give her and the other guy an A, she would break his arm and crush his throat and dump him in the Atlantic Ocean to die, where no one would know what happened to him, and they’d just give a substitute professor. Because he was subjectively a douche to her. Obviously would be an idiotic and evil thing to do though. Just like what she did to Max was. “The term Douche comes to mind. Some would see that as “Karma” which is a gross misuse of the word. But in this case it is, “You do bad things, you get bad things happen to you.”” First, Max did not do anything ‘bad.’ Choosing not to be altruistic is not being ‘bad.’ Again, back to the ‘you don’t donate blood, so you’re bad and deserve people strapping you own and forcibly taking your blood’ argument. Second, who the hell made Alison the arbiter of good and bad, or of punishment for that matter? Max was not even criminal, where at least she’d have an arguable defense as a ‘superhero.’ Who did? Just… she’s stronger. She’s more powerful than he is physically, and therefore she gets to decide what others should do. IE, the mentality of a rapist. I’m bigger than you, or I’m stronger than you, or I have a gun and you don’t, so you not only have to do what I tell you to do, but you have to agree that I’m right for doing it to you. “She was the dealer of karma but chose to use the karma to help another.” Where’s her karma for doing something bad hmm? Guilt? THAT’s the karma? That’s not karma. That’s her being evil, but not being a sociopath. “She committed a crime. I am sure we all have committed a crime or two.” Aside from that some of us have not committed a crime or two, lets say everyone has created crime or two. Everyone is also subject to PUNISHMENT for those crimes. “Some with out knowing it and some with out understanding it.” Actually, if you do not know it, then you’re missing the mens rea of a criminal action. “I mean as babies we all take stuff from other people with out being given them.” Actually babies are incapable of committing crimes. They literally do not understand right from wrong. They’re essentially little sociopaths. Alison does not have that excuse. She KNOWS she was wrong. She did it anyway, and justified doing it just because she’s stronger. And worse, people on the forum have bent over backwards to defend it as well. At least Alison is a fictional person who can’t use this sort of mentality to hurt other people in real life. The people who comment to defend her actions? They CAN use this sort of mentality to hurt other people real life, if they think they’ll get away with it or are deluded enough to think they are immune from punishment. “We just act before the age of reason and a certain amount of learning takes place.” We’re also relatively helpless before the age of reason. Alison was not helpless at all. The only helpless one there was Max. Seer of Trope Unless you don’t agree that Max was a prick, you really should wait until Guwara presents his actual philosophical argument on Friday. SJ Unless you don’t agree that Max was a prick, you really should wait until Guwara presents his actual philosophical argument on Friday. That’s right, dear reader, keep tuning in. It’s coming, I swear! I’m not just reeling you along this time. What you’ve been waiting for is right around the corner… and this time, I mean it! PT Barnum told no lies, I tell you what… Izo I don’t really care if Max was or was not a prick. He was innocent of any wrongdoing, and was forced through violence and threats on his life against his will by an unstoppable bullying tyrant. I feel pretty certain that this storyline will resolve the way I’ve been saying it probably would be resolving – that everything Alison did was good and peachy and nothing bad will happen to her as a result, and nothing bad will happen to her plan as a result. Moral of the story – Evil isn’t evil if it’s for your subjective good cause. Yeah that can’t possibly be bad historically. Nope. /sarcasm. Seer of Trope I’m not disagreeing with you that Max is innocent. I’m saying that perhaps it would be prudent to wait until a character has given his argument when it’s heavily implied that he will do so in the very next page instead of assuming what his opinion “obviously” is. Izo Fair enough. But I’m still making a prediction/guess about what I think is going to happen. I’m hoping I’m wrong but so far I haven’t been about this particular story arc. entirelyuseless This panel is certainly some evidence that you were right. I’m still skeptical, though — that would be a really bad story and I still think they’ll come up with a better one. Izo I wish I was wrong, but I’m pretty certain I was, and will be, entirely correct about the awfulness of this storyline. Cokely Thank goodness you are here to show us that this bad and we should feel bad. Izo Well since no one else is bothering to say that hurting innocent people is bad, I figure someone should. Oh wait, you’re using sarcasm 🙂 How cute. I guess you think that it IS fine and dandy to physically assault and force another person if they’re someone that you don’t like. So how many people who you don’t like have you violently assaulted and threatened to kill to their face? Internet with the anonymity shields don’t count. I’m going to guess none, I hope. Maybe because you either realize that your belief IS a bad one that you should not actually do? Alternatively, maybe you actually do this in real life, in which case I hope never to run across you because I actively try to avoid meeting people who think that their not liking me gives them carte blanche to physically harm me. Cokely Alternatively, I agree with your general point, but think you are extremely bad at making your point clear through your use of sanctimonious preaching, condescension, and generally weak argumentation. You are Dunning-Kreuger made manifest. Izo Seems I must be at least adequate at my argumentation, given I got you to agree with me, and I seem capable of holding my own against multiple people arguing at me simultaneously, sometimes with a lot of ad hominem attacks or repetition of points which I have refuted. Also…. Dunning-Kreuger? That’s an example of those ad hominem attacks and insult-flinging that just rolls off me, mainly since I’m not ‘low ability.’ I base what I’m saying on my academic and professional background and history. Cokely I agree with your point despite, not because, of your arguments. Your conclusion is reasonable. Your methods are questionable, and your assumptions regarding the purpose of fiction and the autonomy and agency of the audience are steaming garbage. And whether or not the insult rolls off of you is irrelevant. It was not made for your benefit. Izo “I agree with your point despite, not because, of your arguments” My point is a result of my arguments. “Your methods are questionable, and your assumptions regarding the purpose of fiction and the autonomy and agency of the audience are steaming garbage.” More ad hominem attacks. The refuge of someone who cannot argue with logic. Doesn’t matter to me as long as you’re not actively threatening me. That being said, I have very little confidence in the ability of people to not be easily manipulated by stories. If you have more faith, good for you. I’m a realist when it comes to the ease of which people can sway people to believe in horrific things as ‘good.’ “And whether or not the insult rolls off of you is irrelevant. It was not made for your benefit.” Given that you made the insult directed at me, in response to my post, I think you definitely said it to try to get a rise out of me. So it’s very relevant that you fail at that. It means you (or anyone for that matter) can’t just call me names, make me upset and dissuade me from what I say by just insulting me with personal attacks. Cokely Your point stems from false premises. However, I am aware of the fallacy fallacy, since we are so quick to leap to those, and recognize that there are other arguments which make the same conclusion more effectively. These are convincing to me. Yours are not. And yes, your methods are questionable, and your assumptions are flawed. Are these so intrinsic to your character that they are ad hominem? This speaks more poorly of your character than I had presumed. As for whether it’s made for your benefit or not – well, are you the only one reading this? Izo “Your point stems from false premises.” My premises re not false. They’re factual. “However, I am aware of the fallacy fallacy, since we are so quick to leap to those, and recognize that there are other arguments which make the same conclusion more effectively. These are convincing to me. Yours are not.” And yet you feel the need to continually argue with me – not with logical counterpoints, but with insults. If you were capable of arguing logically, you wouldn’t be resorting to personal attacks. 🙂 “And yes, your methods are questionable, and your assumptions are flawed. Are these so intrinsic to your character that they are ad hominem?” No, the Dunning-Kreuger crack was an ad hominem attack. Calling what I say ‘steaming garbage’ is an ad hominem attack. Maybe you can grow as an individual and learn how to argue without resorting to them, but I’m not hopeful of you having growth like that given your posts on this particular thread. “As for whether it’s made for your benefit or not – well, are you the only one reading this?” At this rate, possibly, since this is getting tiresome 🙂 And it’s not necessarily for ‘benefit’ but it’s definitely an attempt to try to hurt my feelings. It’s definitely not to convince other people of your stance. You don’t insult someone with personal attacks and think it’s going to be logically convincing to anyone but other bullies. Cokely Logically, you cannot be reasoned with. You have made it clear over page after page of comments that you think Alison’s actions are immoral, with which I agree (although, before you start crowing, you are not the one who convinced me of that). You have also made it clear that you view it as a fundamental flaw of the comic that Alison has not been punished for these actions in a manner that you find sufficient. What’s more, you don’t just think this is a flaw because it’s unsatisfying to your narrative tastes, but because you think this makes the text somehow immoral – that it is now a dangerous text because it could convince people that actions like Alison’s are appropriate in the real-world. I could not disagree more with the above claims, but arguing with them is arguing with an axiom, one you presume to be self-evident – that fiction has a subconscious influence that trumps human agency more than the reverse. I hold the opposite to be true. Given that, and given your reliance, not just in this thread but in every one of those pages in which you’ve had this discussion, on condescension and preaching, the logical course for me is to not engage except to insult. It is the only productive discussion that can be had with you, because at least I can get some kind of enjoyment from it. Izo “Logically, you cannot be reasoned with.” You have yet to MAKE a logical or reasonable argument. Just insults. “You have also made it clear that you view it as a fundamental flaw of the comic that Alison has not been punished for these actions in a manner that you find sufficient. What’s more, you don’t just think this is a flaw because it’s unsatisfying to your narrative tastes, but because you think this makes the text somehow immoral – that it is now a dangerous text because it could convince people that actions like Alison’s are appropriate in the real-world.” Holy words in my mouth Batman. No, I view it as a problem to give a moral that might makes right, as long as you have a subjective view that someone is bad for not doing what you want them to do. And I find it DISTURBING when people use utilitarian philosophy to justify it, since utilitarian philosophy is an inherently flawed belief system which has been responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history, especially when the person deciding ‘the greater good’ is just because they’re the strongest person. “I could not disagree more with the above claims, but arguing with them is arguing with an axiom, one you presume to be self-evident – that fiction has a subconscious influence that trumps human agency more than the reverse. I hold the opposite to be true.” How about use the actual axiom I use instead of the one you make up. That might help. “Given that, and given your reliance, not just in this thread but in every one of those pages in which you’ve had this discussion, on condescension and preaching, the logical course for me is to not engage except to insult. It is the only productive discussion that can be had with you, because at least I can get some kind of enjoyment from it.” Pot calling the kettle black. You’ve been the condescending one. Who is now saying you have no choice but to insult. Then simultaneously complains that we can’t have a reasonable, logical debate. You’re being insulting. That’s NOT being logical or reasonable. Cokely “No, I view it as a problem to give a moral that might makes right, as long as you have a subjective view that someone is bad for not doing what you want them to do. And I find it DISTURBING when people use utilitarian philosophy to justify it, since utilitarian philosophy is an inherently flawed belief system which has been responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history, especially when the person deciding ‘the greater good’ is just because they’re the strongest person.” And none of this would matter, and you wouldn’t be making this a point of discussion page after page, without the following: “That being said, I have very little confidence in the ability of people to not be easily manipulated by stories. If you have more faith, good for you. I’m a realist when it comes to the ease of which people can sway people to believe in horrific things as ‘good.'” If you did not believe the above, you would not find it such a problem that a fictional character has not been punished swiftly enough. If you believed the opposite of your stated view prior, were a die-hard utilitarian who felt might makes right was completely justified, and you were instead complaining that Alison was being unjustly criticized by the narrative for her choices, we would still be having this argument because of the above. “How about use the actual axiom I use instead of the one you make up. That might help.” I have. “Pot calling the kettle black. You’ve been the condescending one. Who is now saying you have no choice but to insult. Then simultaneously complains that we can’t have a reasonable, logical debate. You’re being insulting. That’s NOT being logical or reasonable.” I am indeed being condescending to you. I do not do it under the view that it makes me a more righteous person, that my morality is ultimately correct, or that it is in any way capable of convincing you. I do not believe there to be a means of convincing you that actually, it is quite all right if the narrative does not punish the character. I have therefore reasonably adjusted my goals within the context of this conversation to suit my own needs – which, I again reiterate, have nothing to do with convincing you of anything, because you have reasonably shown that’s not possible. But you know, perhaps I am wrong. You tell me: How would I convince you that this character not being punished straightaway is not a problem? Under what circumstances would you find that to be true? Magma Sam “And I find it DISTURBING when people use utilitarian philosophy to justify it, since utilitarian philosophy is an inherently flawed belief system which has been responsible for some of the worst atrocities in history, especially when the person deciding ‘the greater good’ is just because they’re the strongest person.” I keep seeing this kind of comment around here. It implies strongly that just because some people used utilitarian arguments for bad things, that utilitarianism is inherently bad by association. I don’t see how deontology is any better, as if there’s never been any horrible dictator that has justified their crimes with deontology. You’re speaking as if this is a unique facet of utilitarianism. Izo “I keep seeing this kind of comment around here. It implies strongly that just because some people used utilitarian arguments for bad things, that utilitarianism is inherently bad by association.” No, it’s because utilitarianism, by its very nature, can excuse any horrific act by saying that a greater good will be done in the future. This is problematic for MANY reasons. First, it presupposes some sort of omniscience or clairvoyance with absolute certainty about the future, compared to the actual assurance of harming a person or removing personal liberty in the present. Second, it completely ignores the law of unintended consequences. Third, for a philosophy so heavily based on mathematical certainty (X Good > Y Bad), it seems incapable of giving the ‘cutoff.’ In other words, if it’s okay to beat one man to possibly help 10 men, is it therefore okay to enslave 10 men to possibly feed 1000 men? Is it okay to kill a million people to possibly save 10 million people? Is it okay to murder a child in order to save 5 adults? Is it okay to subject a person to terror in order to take their blood to potentially save the lives of 10 people? Is it okay to kill one person to save 10? How about to save 100? 1000? What exactly is the cutoff? And fourth, yes, utilitarianism HAS been used, time and time again, to justify horrific acts, in real life, because the person who commits the horrific act has the subjective view of what good and evil is, and their view, for some reason, is supposed to be more important than the subjective view of the victim. It boils down to a world where might makes right, or possibly tyrrany of the majority, regardless of actual morality. It excuses lynch mobs. It excuses rape gangs. It excuses religious crusades. It excuses genocide. Magma Sam I’ll quote single lines rather than the whole segment to conserve space, since it’s just a marker of what I’m responding to. “This is problematic for MANY reasons.” Ascertaining ways to determine answers to what the cutoffs are, what kinds of unintended consequences might happen, is the difference between theoretical isolated examples and practical real-world-applied utilitarianism. It gets nebulous, especially because “happiness” is not something we can realistically translate into mathematics. Morality is rarely a non-messy subject, however. “And fourth, yes, utilitarianism HAS been used, time and time again, to justify horrific acts…” I never denied this. Utilitarianism HAS been used for this end. The point I made was that your implication was that ONLY utilitarianism has been used to this end, that it is somehow unique in this regard, as if there has never been any other method of convincing people that things such as genocide are Just and Good. Izo “Ascertaining ways to determine answers to what the cutoffs are, what kinds of unintended consequences might happen, is the difference between theoretical isolated examples and practical real-world-applied utilitarianism. It gets nebulous, especially because “happiness” is not something we can realistically translate into mathematics. Morality is rarely a non-messy subject, however.” But utilitarianism philosophy DOES think it can measure these things and translate it realistically into mathematics. That’s one of the many points I already listed about why utilitarianism is an awful philosophy. “I never denied this. Utilitarianism HAS been used for this end. The point I made was that your implication was that ONLY utilitarianism has been used to this end, that it is somehow unique in this regard, as if there has never been any other method of convincing people that things such as genocide are Just and Good.” No, I did not imply that. What I implied is that utilitarianism always devolves into getting used for horrific reasons, because it HAS to operate on a might makes right philosophy in order to be implemented, and it removes humanity from the equation entirely in order to fit things like ‘liberty’ and ‘value of a human life’ and ‘value of human suffering’ into numerical units for some sort of sociopathic formula of ultimate net goodness. Magma Sam “But utilitarianism philosophy DOES think it can measure these things and translate it realistically into mathematics. That’s one of the many points I already listed about why utilitarianism is an awful philosophy.” There are specific branches of utilitarianism that focus on calculating out values for happiness, but not all of them. Utilitarianism is not even unified in what mechanisms we should calculate happiness by, much less making them accurate enough for real implementation. It’s definitely not essential to the “ends justify means” justification from Alison in the comic, which is something you’re angry with regardless of if she believes in and uses “happiness points”. On a personal note, I think that trying to translate happiness into exacting math values is a fruitless endeavor and shouldn’t be bothered with, so we agree there. “No, I did not imply that. What I implied is that utilitarianism always devolves into getting used for horrific reasons, because it HAS to operate on a might makes right philosophy in order to be implemented, and it removes humanity from the equation entirely in order to fit things like ‘liberty’ and ‘value of a human life’ and ‘value of human suffering’ into numerical units for some sort of sociopathic formula of ultimate net goodness.” Okay, so what you’re saying is that it’s IMPOSSIBLE for utilitarianism to be utilized for any purpose that does NOT lead to horrific ends. For this I’ll have to ask how wide a net we’re casting for something to be called “utilitarianism”, because I don’t recall hitler mentioning anything in his hate speeches about “happiness points”. cphoenix I really like how you think and discuss. Did you learn it somewhere you can point me to? Cokely If sarcasm: Nowhere in particular, which is the nature of the problem. If not sarcasm: Nowhere in particular, although I can keep in mind that successful rhetoric =/= successful logic. cphoenix Not sarcasm. I like how you kept on-point when talking with an upset person; distinguished between conclusions and their antecedents, observation vs. attack, interlocutor vs. audience – finding useful distinctions is a very valuable skill, one I’m good at and wish I was better at; and explained several things elegantly. You picked up the problems behind her flailing, not getting distracted by it, and explained them so that, to this third party at least, it looks like you “won” the discourse as well as being right. Winning a fraught discourse is a skill I don’t have and wish I did. I have a couple of tools that I’m clumsy with; you seem to have a toolbox that you’re competent with. A lot of people don’t have the background to draw a clear distinction between rhetoric and logic, or know which they’re engaging in. You clearly have a mental conceptual vocabulary that helps you with this. Can you recommend any books? There must be a good version of “Winning Arguments for Dummies” by Ari Stotle and P. Lato – I know they must be out there, but I don’t know which ones are effective and easy to learn from. Stephanie What do you mean “no one is bothering”? The comments sections for weeks have been full of “Alison is a monster for hurting Max, nothing can ever justify hurting an innocent person,” but you keep acting like you’re the lone person crying out against the utilitarian hordes. Izo And like I had said, after this has been drawn out long enough, there are fewer and fewer people saying anything negative about what Alison did, and wanting there to be some negative repercussions beyond ‘I feel guilty’ and that’s all. Because when they say anything, it’s always ‘give it a chance!’ and passes off the karma to a later date that never seems to come. Stephanie Well, of course people aren’t going to reiterate their opinion on every page unto eternity. It’s not surprising that there’s been a dropoff in people expressing opinions about Alison’s actions one way or another. That doesn’t mean they don’t still feel that way, and there are still plenty of people who are continuing to overtly state that opinion. Izo Which is the main reason for the argument of ‘wait for it – repercussions will happen.’ Because eventually, people will just give the whole thing a pass because the troubling point is so long ago. If there’s a bad ethical decision that someone makes, the best way to argue it is to not argue it – it’s to keep figuring a way to put it off until everyone forgets about it. Stephanie I don’t know what you’re expecting here. This is a story, not a tract. Not to mention that we appear to be on the immediate cusp of an in-universe philosophical discussion about that exact incident, so I genuinely don’t understand why you still seem to think that the authors are planning to ignore the debate until everyone forgets about it. I don’t think it’s even possible to tackle the debate more directly than having the protagonist openly discuss it on-screen with a philosophy professor. I mean, I get that you’re frustrated about the wait, but that’s just how webcomics work. When someone has to draw every single page, it takes a lot of realtime to tell the story. Sure, Gurwara could have jumped out of a shrub right as Alison was leaving Max’s place, but that would have been awful pacing. TheDaviesCR Max is not innocent, your argument is not valid. Lostman Define “innocent” as you understand it? Izo Max is innocent, your argument is not valid. And is not even an argument. Again, someone NOT doing something that is good is not the same as someone doing something bad. You can refrain from doing something altruistic without being a bad person. He did nothing to anyone. He did nothing to CAUSE anyone to be in trouble or in pain or in danger. That’s the definition of innocent. TheDaviesCR He’s rich. “Any great fortune has its origins in a great crime.” He’s living off the avails of a great crime. Living off the avails of a crime is itself a crime. Thus, not innocent Izo Wow, you literally think that being rich is, in and of itself, a crime. Do you have any sort of proof to back up your quote, or are you just making stuff up as you go along? TheDaviesCR I’m stating self-evident truth. Your refusal to recognize it speaks well of your priorities and allegiances. And now you are shifting the goal post — you asked what evil act, I answered that he was living off the avails of crime, and now you claim that doing so is a victimless crime. I say it is not. Izo I’m not shifting any goalposts. Your statement is ridiculous that being rich is a crime. The goalpost is where it’s always been. You just took the ball and buried it in the ground, cemented the field with concrete, and yelled ‘score!’ instead. Also I did not say being rich is a victimless crime. Reading is fundamental. I’m saying it’s not a crime. Because being rich is not a crime, has never been a crime, and should never be a crime if you do not commit a crime. Success is not a crime. Maybe you don’t realize it because you’ve never been successful, and feel the only way you could be successful is by committing a crime, but that’s incorrect. You can be rich legally. And nothing has been shown to say Max is rich through illegal means, even if we ignore that he’s done nothing to Alison or to anyone else to require him to do a good deed to deserve punishment. palmvos So we are going to reprise the Face of Dorian Grey again… that was a terrible painting. Izo Also a terrible villain in LXG. Stephanie I’ve said this about your reactions to a lot of the pages over the last few months, but this is really premature. We have absolutely no idea what Gurwara is about to say, and both characters acknowledge on this page that his initial comment wasn’t “philosophy” and has no moral basis. Regardless of what side his actual argument is going to fall on–if he even takes a side at all–the substance of that argument is obviously not going to be “it’s fine to hurt people if you don’t like them.” Maybe let’s hear out the part where he actually “does philosophy” before we decide what the aesop is going to be? Philip Petrunak I like this guy even more. He gets it. This wasn’t the case of might making right. This was one powerful person holding another powerful person to account. If you can help someone, at no cost to yourself, and you don’t, you’re in the morally wrong. Philip Bourque The moral response to that being to hunt the guy down and threaten to break his limbs until he does what you view as the ‘right’ thing. Philip Petrunak Well, if he’s willing to let thousands of people die every day around the world because they don’t have viable organs, because he won’t help a single person for one night out of spite. Yeah, yeah it seems appropriate, proportional response. You sound like all those fucking Republicans complaining that taxes are “theift”. As if they’ll miss all that extra money they were going to waste of a fucking boat or some shit when it would be better used feeding children or building a school. You’d condemn the world to rule by the plutocrats because you feel it’s wrong to try and take them down a peg. Philip Bourque Max is immaterial. He’s not moral, so what? Who cares? It’s unimportant. You want to save those lives, you find a way to save those lives. Al didn’t care about those lives. She only said it to try and guilt him. Al made the minimum amount of effort to get an answer that she wanted to save her friend Feral. She didn’t think about how using Max’s power could have killed Feral. She didn’t think about how she could have used his power to benefit the people more effectively. She was stupid, near sighted and selfish. All she wanted and all she accomplished was to save Feral. My contention is that she wasted Max’s power to make herself stop feeling guilty and now she’s only feeling worse. Michael Smith That’s trolling, right? When you say this character–who’s only been deeply committed to saving lives and helping make the world a better place–didn’t care about those lives, you’re just saying it to get a reaction? Also, why do you feel there was another way to save those lives? There’s not always another answer. It was a miracle she had this answer. She couldn’t just decide to just grow new organs in her basement or try real hard with another path. She does not have that power. Sometimes there isn’t another way. It’s not like she’s playing a board game that guarantees a way to win. Using max to boost feral was her only choice. I love that she’s a stupid, nearsighted and selfish for just saving every person on the planet with a failing organ. That was a big waste? Three pages of begging him was the minimum effort? Mechwarrior Except that Alison didn’t save those people. Feral was already saving those people and Alison stepped in because the methods Feral was using were horrific. And we still don’t know the long-term implications. Twenty years from now, the entire world is most likely going to be hooked on Feral’s vivisected organs for donations. It’s unlikely that anyone else is going to bother donating anymore. It’s equally unlikely that anyone is going to bother researching alternatives, like cloned tissues or improved prosthetic replacements- heck, she’s probably going to cause companies that make pacemakers or artificial heart valves to stop production. So what happens if for whatever reason, Feral can’t donate her body anymore? What if her powers burn out from overuse or as a side effect from Max’s ability? Suddenly, there aren’t any replacement organs available for anyone. Tylikcat I *think* the implication is that even though she’s spending a lot less time doing it, she’s donating more organs total. (Mind you, I’m a little dubious about how this works in terms of getting them out of her, since she regenerates so quickly, but I’m willing to go with it for narrative value.) So it’s gone from Feral is donating full time and meeting some fraction of the world’s needs, to Feral is donating part time and meeting all of it (at least, all of it that can be met in terms of available surgical teams and whatever other bottlenecks.) Alison did consult with Dr. Rosenblum. I can’t imagine that covered long term implications because there’s so much they don’t know, but that’s where some of this came from. There’s a lot about this that seems odd to me, but I’m kind of rolling with it because we’re in a superhero comic, and so I never know how much the answer is “Things just work like that here.” Stephanie “Feral was already saving those people” Not really. Feral was saving a fraction of those people. She certainly was not meeting the global need for blood/organs/tissue prior to Max’s boost. Mechwarrior Not by herself, but her contribution was being added to the global pool. Stephanie Sure, but people were still dying because the global pool was inadequate to meet everyone’s needs. She was unable to save those people before, and now she is able to save them. Philip Bourque I assure you that while I may no longer take the comic seriously, I am answering in all seriousness. Alison has never been dedicated to saving lives, she has been dedicated to doing the ‘right’ thing and punching things and punching the ‘right’ things. The firefighter thing? It’s a job doing the right thing. She was a soldier under the government’s command since she was old enough to learn she could bench press trucks and take a bullet to the face without getting a scratch. She doesn’t act well without someone to give her orders. Given the diverse powers that exist, that there was another way is unquestionable. She was focused on Max because 1. Patrick nicely highlighted his name and power for her in his list and 2. he badmouthed Al’s bestest friend in the whole wide world, Feral. She could have used his power on a thousand other individuals to make the world a better place; she could have found a thousand different individuals who, working together, could have accomplished the same or better. She didn’t she focused on him. She called her doc friend and said “I have this power set, will it do this? Yes? Kthxbye!” That was the minimal effort. Her ‘begging’ consisted of this: “Will you do this thing? Why won’t you do this thing? You’re a bad person for not doing this thing. If you don’t do this thing I will drop you in the Atlantic to leave you to die and if you protest even a little, I will twist your arm to near the breaking point. You will do this thing.” And now she’s winging about how she’s not sure it was the right thing. Michael Smith “Given the diverse powers that exist, that there was another way is unquestionable.” There is absolutely no evidence of that. You’re just saying that. And we’ve seen some guys with horns on their head and fire dudes and such. But the idea that there are endless magical powers out there to fix problems like organ failure isn’t really part of this universe. You’ve decided that as a way to condemn Alison’s choice–insisting she has options that the world building in the comic has never shown. “There absolutely would have been another way to do it!” is easy way to condemn someone’s actions, but sometimes there isn’t another way. Usually, actually. SJ There is absolutely no evidence of that. You’re just saying that.. You’ve decided that as a way to condemn Alison’s choice–insisting she has options that the world building in the comic has never shown… Given what we know to be true about Alison, and her poor critical thinking skills, it is more likely than not that there was another way. Hell, there wasn’t even enough time elapsed in the story for it to be reasonable for anyone to believe that she investigated every option, or that she even considered other options. spriteless Alison’s been looking for an answer since she first heard about Feral’s sacrifice. She jumped on the first one she found. If you could give another answer, even just a sort of plausible one not supported by world building, then I would have a better time believing your argument. SJ Alison’s been looking for an answer since she first heard about Feral’s sacrifice… This is demonstrated by the narrative exactly nowhere. spriteless Now that I think about it, maybe not. But she has been angsting over it, whether uselessly as you assume or with some looking as I assumed is a matter of audience interpretation. Thank you for pointing out that I had created a narrative that may or may not be implied by the text. My interpretation of Allison was doing something, though. She’s a doer. She gets antsy when she can’t solve problems with her super strength. This may be why it was so easy for her to strongarm Max, actually. Makes her seem a more consistent character, with so many of her flaws bundled into one instinct. Michael Smith That would some pretty goddamn boring plot. To give you pages and pages of dead ends? So you could feel reasonably sure she explored a bunch of other disappointing options? You think the author should have let all the tension drain from this plot so more time could elapse to imply a morally reasonable investigation of letdowns? That seems like super bad storytelling. Stuff can happen between the panels too. Just project some of that if you need it. She called Dr. Rosenblum a few times or something. Kifre There are plenty of ways to efficiently convey that time has passed or that Alison has looked into other options without “pages and pages of dead ends.” Like you say, stuff can happen between the panels, but from what we have seen on panel we can safely conclude that this is a rush-job. SJ That would some pretty goddamn boring plot. To give you pages and pages of dead ends? So you could feel reasonably sure she explored a bunch of other disappointing options? You think the author should have let all the tension drain from this plot so more time could elapse to imply a morally reasonable investigation of letdowns? That seems like super bad storytelling. You’re right; 3-4 pages of Alison and Clevin mooning over each other, and seeing Lisa walk into walls was a much more worthwhile use of time… …She called Dr. Rosenblum a few times or something. If, by “a few times,” you mean once, after she was (likely illegally) sent the file from Patrick. A conversation which, for all we know, consisted of, “If I do X, what will happen? Okay, cool, I’m going to need you to call this list of people, and let them know that I’m about to do X. kthxbye!” And even if we stipulate that she called Doc Rosenblum “a few times,” we don’t know that they talked about anything other than the logistics of what she’d already decided to do. And since we don’t see her call the Doc until after she received the file, there’s no real reason to think she did, either. There is nothing in the narrative to indicate that she explored any other option; absolutely nothing. In fact, she didn’t even explore this option, it was literally handed to her. Philip Bourque I can name three people who could revolutionise the world, but won’t simply because the author won’t let them: Lisa Bradley, Hector Jiminez and Patrick Andrews. Their very existence can change everything, but it won’t because the author would lose the modern setting they need for whatever message they are trying to shovel in. But no, you’re right, that would be too difficult. Let’s take the first solution that presents itself and not look for anything else. The first solution being kill, maim or maul those who disagree with you because clearly they are just trying to cause trouble for everyone. Alison loves violence and loves to indulge in her violent behaviour (the after-party guilt, not so much), so we shouldn’t take that away from her. Her personal motto should be: “Punch first. Ask questions while punching.” Michael Smith Hector is gonna shrink himself smaller? That’ll help organ failure around the world? And those three people are trying to change the world–in other ways. That doesn’t affect this situation with Feral and Max. Just insisting she could have found another way seems silly. The circumstances of this fictional world are not yours to control. “I’ve decided there’s another person with powers very similar to Max’s just two miles away! She’s could have asked that guy!” You don’t get to just declare stuff like that about other people’s fictions. You can’t just insist there’s another option for saving all those lives just because you’d like there to be–because that makes it easier to condemn this character. Within this fictional world, this was her option. And it seems pretty clear, for now, it was her only way. Perhaps the authors will change those circumstances. Reveal something else. But for now, that’s what we got. Philip Bourque I see, so you are only considering direct application of powers instead of thinking of the possibilities those powers could present. Try thinking about it, about how a person who can shrink down to the size of a germ could affect a person’s health. Now, I’ve said my piece and you have your own ideas and won’t be swayed by me. Fine, I’m going to ignore you now and move on to something much more worthwhile. Which is what Al should have done instead of fixating on the Max and Feral thing. Hopefully she can get over her little bout of angst and get back to the important things, like punching stuff. Michael Smith Okay, you can ignore me, but that just seems totally bizarre–that you get to project possibilities and circumstances you just imagine in your head onto other people’s tales as a logical given–and then judge the characters in the context of your ideas. It’s like this: “Batman is a thug! He clearly had the option of calling his friend Superman before breaking that guy’s arm! We know he has his number from past issues!” Or: “Luke Skywalker obviously could have used the force to telekinetically save Darth Vader. He chose to leave him behind. Why would he have been about to do that? Because I said so! I’m logically extrapolating from past use of his power!” Or maybe: “Moses clearly was morally wrong to let all those first born kids die! If he could channel god’s power to part the red sea, then it clearly stands to reason that he most obviously could have telepathically forced pharaoh to let his people go without all that bloodshed! He’s a murderer!” See what I mean? It’s such a strange way of reading and judging someone else’s story. Stephanie “You want to save those lives, you find a way to save those lives.” Yes, which is why that’s exactly what Alison did. “She didn’t think about how she could have used his power to benefit the people more effectively.” How exactly do you think Alison could have used Max’s power to benefit people more effectively than ending all deaths due to a need for blood or donor organs, throughout the entire world, for the rest of Feral’s potentially extremely long life? Really–name the known, canonical character you think she should have boosted instead of Feral. Lostman One thing I can guess for sure is what Alison did can, and may bite her in the but later on. Stephanie That, I do agree with. She could have made a stronger effort at arranging the boost for Feral peacefully; the way she went about it was suboptimal, and that’s sure to bite her in the ass. I just don’t agree with the claim that she could have found a better application for Max’s powers than using them on Feral. Lostman I am coming around to what she did with a “it’s illegal if you get caught” mentally. As good as it was that she at least brought Max back were she took him from. If anything happens to Max’s that can be somehow connected to her, I only see negative things for Alison. Stephanie I don’t really see the criminal justice system coming down on her–they’ve let worse than this slide because they know they can’t actually contain her. Plus, a lot of the tension of the story comes from the fact that Alison can’t really be restrained or held accountable like an ordinary person, so she’s forced to rely on her own ethics to guide her actions, with mixed results. But I think there are a lot of other ways that Max could make her life harder, or at least make it harder for her to achieve her goals. Lostman Never understatement the ways lawyers can screw someone over; if they can get her directly, they’ll find another way. And if the criminal justice system can’t get Alison, the universe will find away. Seer of Trope Considering the variety of superpowers, there were probably some that could have been boosted to the benefit similar, if not greater, than Feral’s. It was just that Feral was an immediate, pretty good option where Alison’s friend was at stake. Could Alison have gone through all the options? It would have been good world-building, but it could be also less exciting and impactful than resolving Feral’s problem. Philip Bourque Alison ‘saved’ exatly one person: Feral. Though Feral was in no danger, just constant pain. Those other people? They are no more saved today than they were the day before Max boosted Feral. They might get those organs sooner, but who knows? As for who he could have boosted to greater effect? Off the top of my head, Ms. Bradley a.k.a. Paladin. With her genius and inventing powers boosted, she could get past that silly little A.I. obsession of hers and on to other projects that could benefit humanity, like artificial organ replacements (just an example) or she could make a robot that could invent things for humanity in her place, since she would rather not deal with it herself. Funny thing? Max wasn’t even necessary. If Lisa and Hector worked together with Patrick bankrolling the whole thing, they could revolutionise multiple scientific fields and advance humanity as a whole for the benefit of all. But then the modern setting the author wants would be changed and whatever message they want to put forward through this comic would be lost. So that won’t happen. Stephanie When people wait too long for a needed transplant organ, they die. People were dying because Feral was not able to meet the global need for organs. They weren’t just sitting around like “Boy, it sure would be nice to have an organ, but I’ll be fine I guess.” They were dying. That is why the doctor tells Feral that needles deaths due to the lack of blood/organs/tissues will now be an oddity of the past. So no, Alison didn’t save “exactly one person.” It’s right there in the text that her actions will lead to the saving of an enormous number of lives–the lives of people who otherwise absolutely would have died. Why do you think boosting Paladin would make her “get past that silly A.I. obsession,” as you put it? It’s a power boost, not mind control. It wouldn’t change her passion any more than it changed Feral’s. Even if it did, it’s a much riskier option with no real way to predict the payoff, whereas boosting Feral had a very clear and direct payoff of saving an enormous number of lives, continuously, throughout Feral’s life. Philip Bourque They are still dying, you know. Those organs didn’t get magically transplanted into those who need it the instant Max boosted Feral. All that has changed is the supply; the demand still exists, the time that it takes to get organs to those that need them still exists, the time it takes doctors to put those organs in properly, all of that still needs to happen. That’s why I don’t count them. Besides, it is neither Alison nor Feral who is saving those people, it is the doctors, the surgeons and the nurse who are saving them. Feral is merely providing the material to do so. Lisa would get over it because she would be able to complete it sooner. Her boosted power would allow her to reach her goal sooner and start multiple projects sooner. Or she could create an A.I. to do the inventing for her so she could do whatever she wants, as I suggested. Of course, if Paladin doesn’t want to save ‘countless, countless lives’, we could always send Alison to twist her arm over it. As for risk, boosting Feral was equally risky and the only reason it turned out well is because the author didn’t want to explore that venue. Hell, saving those people is also risky because we have no way of knowing what those people will do with their lives. Stephanie It really makes no sense to “not count them” just because there are additional steps involved in saving them. Saving them was impossible without Alison’s intervention. No matter what the doctors, the surgeons, and the nurses did, those people could not possibly have been saved. Now, they will be saved, thanks to Alison’s efforts in conjunction with Feral and the doctors, surgeons, and nurses. This is absolutely relevant to any ethical debate about Alison’s decision to harm Max. You might as well say, “Well, I pulled that drowning child from the ocean when no one else could, but the paramedics still had to resuscitate her afterwards, so I guess I didn’t really save her. It doesn’t count unless I’m the only person involved.” You’re ignoring crucial information because it would be inconvenient to your argument to acknowledge it. Philip Bourque Your analogy is flawed. Here’s a better one: your are supplying fire hoses to the fire department: you can do this faster than other people. Are you putting out fires and saving people? No, no you are not. Alison didn’t, is not and will not save those lives. Feral did not, is not and will not save those lives. Without them, the organs in the system would still be moving out, lives would still be ‘saved’ (for a given value of saved) and the earth keeps spinning. Without the doctors, surgeons and nurses, those people would linger in slow and painful deaths. All Feral and Alison have done is soothe their guilty consciences (although Al failed there) with the the fact that maybe, more lives would be saved sooner. Maybe. What is made clear in that text is that either the doctor was spouting platitudes , misinformation and outright lies for Feral’s benefit or the author was writing with only numbers in mind. Either way it was too ridiculous for me to handle. Yeah, people can fly, read minds and regrow their brain in this world and this is what breaks my suspension of disbelief. You do raise a good point, the doctor only said that these were the numbers that were going to be satisfied. There has been no demonstration as of yet that the actual logistics of the entire endeavour will be enough to keep the supply. She could have been lying, you know, a good pat on the head and all for our heroes. Stephanie Your reasoning doesn’t make sense. There was a gap between the number of organs available, and the number of people who needed them. This means that there was a category of people who would die as a result of not receiving an organ, since no organ was available for them. “X” people were doomed to die. Saving the X people requires the following: the work of the doctors, surgeons, nurses, and everyone else involved in the distribution of organs; Feral’s assistance in providing the organs; and Alison’s intervention to increase Feral’s output. All of those factors are required, but for some reason you’re arbitrarily “not counting” Alison’s and Feral’s contributions. Yes, the doctors, surgeons, and nurses are also necessary to save the X lives. They are not, however, sufficient to save those lives without Alison and Feral’s contributions. Alison, Feral, and the medical personnel are all saving the X lives. “Without them, the organs in the system would still be moving out, lives would still be ‘saved'” Again, not enough organs. Not all of the people. There was a deficit of organs that has now been closed. There are X people who would never have received organs, and now will. Philip Bourque X number of people are still doomed to die because the organs won’t get to where they need to be fast enough. But this is all beside the point. We’re arguing in circles over the value of the results of her contribution. Let’s try a different train of thought: I say Alison committed criminal acts (assault, kidnapping, coercion using violence) in order to help her friend Feral. I also say that she put Feral’s life and liberty in extreme danger by taking this course of action. I maintain that if she had thought about it and planned, she could have come up with a better action than getting Max involved, the only real difference being the amount of time it would take. I maintain that she used Max inefficiently given that she is now a criminal and increasing threat to society. Stephanie “X number of people are still doomed to die because the organs won’t get to where they need to be fast enough.” Where are you getting this? Look: “X” refers to the number of people who were doomed to die because no organs were available for them. Even if some fraction of those X people still don’t receive the organs in time because of distribution problems, that doesn’t mean that the entire group of X people are still doomed. That would not make any sense and would contradict the text. You’re implying that the system was already at organ capacity before Feral was boosted, which is canonically not the case. Call “Y” the number of people who still don’t manage to get an organ even though enough organs exist for everyone. (X-Y) lives are still saved. (X-Y) people who would have died, will now survive. Alison, in conjunction with Feral and the medical personnel, is saving “X-Y” lives. The reason we’re arguing in circles about this is because you’re arbitrarily writing off information that is relevant to the debate. I don’t think there is any evidence in the comic that there existed a way for Alison to erase (nearly) all deaths from lack of organs/tissues/blood without involving Max. “Hypothetically she might have come up with something if she thought really hard” doesn’t cut it. You’re also writing off “the time it would take” as if it were irrelevant–as if people would not be continuing to die needlessly for that entire time. Alison would have been choosing to sacrifice the lives of every one of those people to avoid twisting one guy’s arm. And she’d be sacrificing them not even with the certainty, but with the unfounded hope that she might find a Maxless alternative someday. Philip Bourque I’m writing them off because they are irrelevant. You’re saying “she did this and saved lives, yay.” I’m saying “she could have done something else and saved more lives, boo.” Stephanie Maybe that’s what you’re saying now, but that absolutely isn’t what you were saying. You very clearly said that she didn’t “count” as saving the lives she did–that she hadn’t saved them at all, because the medical personnel are also needed to save them and you’ve arbitrarily decided that only their contribution “counts.” Also, lives saved don’t become “irrelevant” even when they aren’t the maximum possible number of lives saved (and I still dispute that there was a reliably better alternative, and I especially dispute that there was a reliably better way to save lives that she can’t implement in addition to this one). The people whose lives will be saved by Feral’s organs will not vanish into nothingness if someone conceives of a way that more lives could have been saved. You might as well say that an enormous charitable donation is “irrelevant” if the donor technically could have spared even more. Philip Bourque My garsh! The lives, the countless, countless lives! You’re right, how could I have been so blind? Look at them all. Those nameless, faceless masses have value and meaning apart from the value of the reported statistics! The around 120000 people in the united states waiting for organs, with on average 1 more added every ten minutes are singing Alison’s praises! She saved them, by twisting Max’s arm, so he would boost Feral, so she could provide the organs that the doctors would eventually put into people. Look at all the children! And they must be children for dramatic effect. They are erecting a monument to Alison’s heroic endeavour! She’s the bestest hero evar! The (on average) 22 people dying the day before Feral was boosted, and dying per day until the organs, surgeons and rooms are available are all applauding her efforts on her behalf, even though they are still dead. But wait! That can’t be all, can it? 55.3 million people die per year (on average). Alison can’t just let them die, can she? She has to get out of this angst and save the people! What is she going to do for an encore? Stephanie What kind of an argument is this? I have no idea what you’re trying to say. Maybe you should drop the sarcasm and just explain yourself in a normal way. Philip Bourque You maintain that Alison did what she did to benefit multiple people. I maintain that she did what she did to benefit Feral only and that those others are incidental and thus unimportant to the equation. Stephanie What is your evidence for the other lives being incidental and unimportant? Philip Bourque Because since she told Al she was going under the knife, it’s always been about Feral and only Feral. How Feral was doing this great thing and how Al couldn’t compare. Poor Feral sacrificing herself, you shouldn’t badmouth or question Feral’s actions, no no. The lives she was saving only came up twice: once when Al tried to guilt Max into helping and then she used it as some vague and nebulous quantifier and the second time when the doc told her how many people would be getting the organs after she was MAXimised. The results of Feral’s actions were never given any kind of meaningful focus in the comic, so why should I consider them? Stephanie You should consider the lives of people who are offscreen for the same reason that you should consider the lives of people you don’t personally know in real life. Within the universe of the comic, some offscreen person who receives a heart transplant is exactly as real as a stranger on another continent receiving heart transplant. Even if we don’t know someone’s face or name, or have any personal connection to them, they are still a real person with their own subjective experiences that are just as rich and meaningful as ours. Their suffering is as real as our own. In-universe, it’s as real as Feral’s suffering. You complain that Alison only “used it as some vague and nebulous quantifier,” but what should she have said? Does she need to go print out a dossier of everyone on the transplant list and read it out loud in order for you to care what happens to them? Regarding Alison’s perspective: Alison’s characterization throughout the entire comic has been of someone who wants to make the world a better place for everyone. She had that entire conversation with Patrick about how she has trouble accepting partial solutions like Feral’s, because she’s striving for a one-punch solution that fixes things for everyone. Years of this comic tell us that Alison is not someone who only cares about the wellbeing of people she personally knows. Admiring Feral’s sacrifice is not inconsistent with comprehending the actual value and meaning of that sacrifice–much the opposite. Philip Bourque I care about them as much as they care about me. Alison should not have gone to Max, she should have done something else. But when she found out what he could do, her first act was to figure out how she could use that to help Feral. She then went to him, knowing her would disagree so she could have an excuse to hurt him. If she didn’t know he would disagree than she’s not as smart as I giver her credit for. You can tell that Al cares for the nameless faceless masses; that’s why the comic has presented cases where her official superhero actions caused collateral damage, an unknown number of injuries and deaths, why she was so intent on knocking out Cleaver that she didn’t notice the buildings she was destroying around her, the people she who were injured because of her. She loves people she doesn’t know so much she turned that one flamethrower guy into pulp and then threatened the nameless faceless mob, saying they should be grateful she doesn’t slaughter the lot of them because she could do it and nothing and no one could stop her. Alison, like anyone else, only even realises other people that she doesn’t know or see exist when it is brought to her attention. Stephanie Half of the point of this comic is that Alison is progressing beyond her reckless superhero years and is making a conscious effort to know the full scale of her impact and act accordingly. Her central motivation in the comic is to find out how she can best act in the world to help as many people as possible, and avoid hurting anyone. If Alison only cared about helping Feral, she was fully capable of removing her from the hospital by force at any time. However, if you genuinely refuse to register people you don’t know as actual humans whose lives have value, this discussion is pointless. Just bear in mind that just because you can’t fathom caring about strangers, doesn’t make it correct to project that attitude onto every fictional character. Giacomo Bandini Steph, i think you are wasting your time with a troll. Stephanie I mean, it’s possible, but I don’t get the impression that they’re being insincere and intentionally baiting me. Their reasoning makes absolutely no sense, but it isn’t coming across to me as disingenuous. RainWall Frankly, who cares if she used Max’s power to save her friend Feral? What’s wrong with that? Oh sure, you can call is selfish, but at the end of the day a person who was getting their organs ripped out on a daily basis is no longer required to do that. That’s a good thing. Even if all she accomplished was to save Feral, that’s good enough for me. Ibrinar Well we do that in some societies, Germany for instance has a punishment for “unterlassene hilfeleistung” meaning for not helping someone in certain situations (accidents usually or when someone is dangling from a cliff and not calling help when someone collapses might count too, though you don’t have to endanger yourself to help), the punishment is money or prison. You might say that doesn’t involve violence, but the power of the state ultimately relies on the potential to enforce its authority by violence. Oh we are civilized we don’t threaten violence, we just send armed people if you refuse to accept the punishment. And they don’t try to hurt you just capture you though if you resist too strongly you might get hurt. But point is in some society we very much threaten consequences for not helping others just in a less violent way. Now maybe germany is wrong to do so. Or maybe the important difference is just that individual persons forcing their morals on other is a bigger problem than society as a whole doing it. I just think many treat it as an “obviously you can not threaten others to help others” now I personally think it would be a huge problem if individuals could do that but it is less simple than many treat it as. Zac Caslar See, this doesn’t bother me but I give rides to hitchhikers and all that. I’m intimately familiar with how much just surviving -not even thriving just pumping air for another day- can end up being more about someone else’s efforts than my own. Weakness is a merciless educator. My own reaction’s not that I’m never afraid, but that I find the idea of being controlled by fear cause to get pissed off. When someone tells me to be afraid, I tell them to go fuck themselves -internally anyway. =] palmvos most people have no clue how often their lives depend on someone they will never meet doing a job right. so its more of an awareness of how much we depend on each other than anything else. Mitchell Lord ROFLMAO. That said…he has a point. The very fact that Allison is so torn up about this shows she’s not a tyrant…YET. The issue is when she starts to justify it over and over with “They were a prick”. That way lies Moonshadow, and Patrick. Thewizardguy Pretty sure he’s got more to say than that. That was just an excellent way to break her out of her current mindset – something Guwara seems to specialise in. EpsilonRose Yup. Sounds about right for a philosophy professor. James Holman To quote Edie Brickell – “Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box Philosophy is a walk on the slippery rocks” Ian Aresty This is the first comic i have felt the absolute Need to comment on. I love his response. Absolutely love it. Aside from all the incredible nuance and complexities of every choice people make, sometimes it boils down to, meh, that guys a prick ; ) Thanks for that! Lisa Feld Oh, man, good on him for smacking her upside the head like she’s any other freshman going through a crisis of faith and thinking the world is ending. She hasn’t lived long enough to have perspective or proportion (and to be fair, a superpowered teenager is used to thinking the world is ending). On a personal note, I had a prof like this, a giant in his field, who would actively humiliate me and take me apart in class, but when he saw I wasn’t going to back down or stop raising my hand, he took me under his wing. Still demolished my arguments, but in a friendly, sparring way, not insulting, and having me over for dinner or recommending me for jobs. Sometimes you need mentors who see the world very differently from you, regardless of whether you end up agreeing on anything. Weatherheight Ins’t it sort of nice when you manage to impress someone just by being yourself? 😀 Lisa Feld Also, can I just say how much I’ve loved, through this whole chapter, the way you’re showing all the problems with making utopian societies that serve everyone when people have needs that don’t intersect? The girl with student loans in class who can’t risk failing, the gender issue in the support group, Alison using force to get results, it’s all working together marvelously to make her–and us–think about what is and isn’t possible, what we’re willing to give up for the greater good and where different people draw their lines. Stephanie Gertsch Symbolic pond sighting at 9:00….Notice how the reflections waver, highlighting how no one can see themselves clearly. I am liking the professor more on his second appearance. Although I would still like him to apologize for making everyone think they could fail the class on the first day. And (maybe) actually failing one person. I like the “Kind of sounds like a prick,” response. I don’t think the conversation will end with “He was a jerk, so whatevs.” But even in the comment section the conversation kept coming back to, “Torture is wrong period,” vs “But he was a jerk who had his arm twisted so he would help thousands of people…” a person This guy is either my new favourite character or my second favourite character. Steele So, I’m confused. Gurwa engages with a (SUPER STRONG) person who he purposefully cheesed off, just listened to her talk about committing capital crimes and responds by TROLLING HER. I guess my question is: Where’s the wheelbarrow he’d have to carry his giant brass balls in? 12th Well he walks with a cane for a reason, you know. Stephanie Capital crimes? Like, a crime you can get the death penalty for? I don’t think she actually did anything to Max that qualifies as a capital crime. Soqoma goddamn this page was cathartic. But, also, you two do such WONDERFUL work. We all watched Allison’s creeping depression happen in front of us, and it was still surprising to see to what point she had begun to question herself. Guwara is a gem, too. We already know how rough and uncompromising he is when he is challenging someone intellectually, and I think we’re starting to see that he is just the same in his empathy or caregiving. Mistress Dizzy -snickering- I think I like this dude. Preacher John XD Jeremy Is it me or does the professor over here have a bronze snake around his staff, like that one staff in greek and biblical mythology associated with healing and medicine? The ‘Rod of Asclepius’, wikipedia tells me? Page 107 has a better shot. Shmitz Here all this time I was assuming her experience in his class had created significant self-doubt about her morality. It was the only explanation I could think of why she would do something so profoundly out of character. But this revelation makes no sense to me. Even if Mr. Jerkface hadn’t failed her out of his class, she would have gone and strongarmed Max like that? “You were right all along” is kind of a crap sentiment when she only started doing stuff to prove him “right” after he said what he said. palmvos as a few people here have pointed out- her tendency to not let her sense of morality interfere with doing what’s right goes back further than that class. Jeff Meehan Wow, haven’t laughed that hard in a while. Cokely Gurwara’s face looks odd in the last panel. Almost too round. This was puzzling me until I realized we almost never see him at anything other than a 3/4ths perspective or in profile, which heightens the impact of the cheekbones. That, and his beard consistently changes length. Go back to the original classroom discussion, and you’ll see it goes back and forth between appearing bushy and appearing closely trimmed. In the last panel here it’s short enough that it makes him look a decade or two younger than he may actually be, where in others it makes him look older. None of this is to say the artist should get more consistent unless she wants to, because a loose design approach, like a pastel palette, is part of the comic’s aesthetic. But I think the looseness of the aesthetic combined with how many defined features there are on Gurwara’s face – all the scars and the beard and the sharp eyebrows and the cheekbones and so forth – means that his appearance shifts a lot from panel to panel compared to simpler characters. There’s probably some analysis that can be taken from that somewhere. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Oh well good I am in vacation for one fucking day and the entire goddamn comment section is all about how trains most stupendously run on time when us foolish skeptic extremists leave those poor well-intentioned dictators alone Cokely They’ll be locking people in webcomic camps any day now. Stephanie I read the same comment section as you, and I don’t see even the real, non-strawman version of the viewpoint you described dominating the conversation. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 If only it were just the ones saying they found Gurwara relatable, you included. That would be bad enough. He just learned of an assault and excused the perpetrator of the account of… the other being a prick? Victim blaming is despicable (is that one okay? Can I say that without upsetting the consensus or is it just the world we live in now) But then they are the ones coming to talk about how the real world is too complex for philosophy. That Gurwara is imparting some reality to this conversation. Oh, my. But I get it. Sometimes the principles we uphold are tedious and exhausting. Decision fatigue sets in after 5pm and can you really go on fighting injustice on an empty stomach? Sometimes you’ve just got to be practical is all. Oh, better: pragmatic. So what if the strongest human on Earth admits to a crime? Tyrants be tyrants. And look, trains on time! Sometimes you’ve just got to shrug, thank the random chance you personally don’t happen to be a victim of oppression so you’re safe from the trappings of your horrific views actually befalling to you, and belittle the ones who don’t settle for injustice the way you do as foolish idealists who don’t live in the real world. It’s not scary at all. Stephanie I think you’re taking his offhand comment too seriously. He hasn’t started “doing philosophy” yet. Even if he does end up arguing that she was justified, his argument isn’t going to be “because he’s a prick.” I don’t know what the rest of your comment has to do with what I said. I read the entire comments section, and the attitude you described does not dominate the conversation. There are like, two or three people in total expressing the opinion that Alison did the right thing, and that’s only with qualifiers. We have done the utilitarian vs deontological argument to death, and we’re not going to agree–but whether or not “the entire goddamn comment section is all about how trains most stupendously run on time when us foolish skeptic extremists leave those poor well-intentioned dictators alone” is a question of fact, and anyone reading the comments can see that that’s not true. I understand that you are as passionate about your point of view as I am about mine, and I respect your position. But it doesn’t make much sense to act like you’re the lone sane person railing against a utilitarian majority when there are actually plenty of people in this comments section who openly, explicitly agree with you that Alison was wrong and deserves to be punished. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 No, no. Not people with the opinion that Alison did the right thing. Those who got a wave of sympathy for Gurwara after this page. Those who feel relief at the sight of someone they interpret as abandonning pretense and “being real”. They do dominate, in sheer number and upvotes. And even if they’re in for a treat ’cause Gurwara’s just being coy now but that won’t last, the mere number of them all coming out of the woods because the page as it is validates their devastating opinions is just depressing. Stephanie I think it is a tremendous leap to see a comment like “Gurwara is relatable here,” and interpret it as “trains most stupendously run on time when us foolish skeptic extremists leave those poor well-intentioned dictators alone.” I don’t think it’s productive to project extreme viewpoints onto people who have not actually expressed those viewpoints. Say you wrote a comment like “Gurwara is being an asshole here.” Do you think it would be justifiable of me to say something like, “Oh, so you think it’s okay to let everyone on Earth be slaughtered just so you don’t have to punch one person in the face, huh?” That would be a leap, wouldn’t it? ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 “I’m not racist defending tyranny, but…” Stephanie OK, you’re just being ridiculous. Lostman Well, seeing the current political climate of the United States. It’s not surprising that some people would be acting this way… Stephanie I don’t understand the connection. I mean, I think Clemens is being hyperbolic and unreasonable, but I don’t get what that has to do with the political climate. Lostman Things bleed over, a lot of people are stressed about the out come of the election. Just look at Clemens other comments. ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Am I? Then you tell me what exactly one means and implies with a “Gurwara is relatable here” and we’ll see where that leads us, not forgetting the current political context. Cokely “Then you tell me what exactly one means and implies with a “Gurwara is relatable here”” If I were to clarify: His comments are amusing and an effective way of deflating the seriousness of her situation by offering a means of cutting the philosophical Gordian knot she seems to have tied herself into. In some circumstances that could be the wrong kind of comment to make, particularly if Alison’s emotional fragility lended itself to self-harm, but in this circumstance Gurwara seems to have a reasonable read on her mental state and know that by making that kind of comment she would react by asking for further clarification. His method of communication at this time, in this context, is the relatable element, rather than the content, which I expect will be expanded upon in future pages. At times it seems like we comment on every page of a webcomic like it’s the very last page (which, to be fair, is a very real threat with the medium). ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Okay. That’s convincing. I do hope nevertheless that one can understand that some of these comments don’t stop merely there and the reaction it leads me to have. And how so fresh out of that dire year of 2016, one could be extremely sensitive to the comments basically amounting to “he tells it like it is.” I find that relatability approach of Gurwara super dangerous, that way. Cokely His specific approach, or relatability in general? ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Would you go as far as to say no commenter here seems to take it as “Al is misguided, prof speaks truth”? Cokely I would not go that far at all; there’s a fair number of commenters in the thread and in the many (many) pages prior who have made it clear that they feel Alison’s actions were justified under a utilitarian perspective, and that Max being a selfish jerk would have made the decision much easier for them. My interest is nevertheless still in what you mean by “relatability” here. Is it relatability in general that’s bothering you, or that being relatable can be used to simplify complicated things and cause a loss of nuance, or is it Gurwara’s style specifically that bugs you? ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 Also: His approach. Telling a Nazi you understand his viewpoint to establish human contact is not the same as stating the same to a member of an oppressed group. Especially in narrative form. Cokely I’m interested. Could you explain further? ∫Clémens×ds 🐙 I really couldn’t do justice to the many, many, many people who tackled the depiction vs endorsement argument in fiction. Film Crit Hulk (an authority on storytelling) spoke at length about it in various columns if you have *lots* of free time in front of you. Cokely Ah, the piece on Fincher’s Fight Club adaptation? I’ve read it, but it’s been some time. I’ll go back and have a look. Stephanie Cokely pretty much nailed it. Micah Matheson I share your concern, friend. This comment section is saddening. cphoenix Every human is a monster. That’s not to say evil. Just potentially very, very destructive, and with impulses in that direction. In most people, those impulses are tempered by something. In some people, it’s merely sympathy/empathy – and these people don’t look like monsters, until they have to decide how to deal with someone not in their in-group. Sometimes, it’s morality – a set of rules of thumb that are taken as absolutes (we hope). The trouble is that when they contradict, you can still get monstrous behavior as e.g. some Christians ignore “love your neighbor and even your enemy” and follow “stone the gays”. In some people, ethics (a more explicit code associated with a social/professional position) can trump morality – and it should – that’s kind of the point of ethics: to make people’s choices predictable even in difficult situations and regardless of their personal morality. Then there are people who decide how to act based on evaluating individual situations according to goals. This is quite difficult to do properly, but can result in non-monstrous behavior even in really difficult situations, if the goals are sufficiently productive and the reasoning is careful and rational (not just rationalization). It’s hard for a person who wants to be “good” to follow the “make your own choices as you go along” path. First, moral systems will say that this path is amoral (true) and immoral (a category error) and bad (frequently but not always). Second, anyone who puts serious thought into being good knows the perils of this path – it’s very close to “make up your own rules as you go along.” But this is the one Alison needs to follow. There’s no system of morality or ethics in her world that she can blindly follow – none were designed for a person of her power. And this is NOT the same as the “axiom of a tyrant” – that is just one of several possible results. palmvos next panel- Alison- ‘ok, how much do I need to pay you?’ and like i predicted somewhere back… a blanking jump cut to the end of the conversation… so we are not too sure about what she told him. its like a game of hide the sausage/melons. MaryEllenCG Heh. I’m starting to like this professor. Marcia Wilson I am laughing my head off here because I suddenly had a flashback to my college librarian. He was JUST LIKE this professor. I had a suspicion this guy was no ordinary character. So glad I was proven right. Nojh Oh that made me laugh when I really needed to laugh. Thank you. Nojh Also it’s been awhile since I’ve seen the alt-text. I kinda miss it. martynW She’s overthinking things, as usual. Granted, superheroes have to deal with more responsibility than most people, but everyone in the world is capable of hurting others to some extent, and we all have to deal with the moral choices involved. HanoverFist Ah yes, the fact that he was a prick totally excuses her actions. Because kidnapping someone is okay if he said mean things first. Filthy Liar Her actions don’t really need an excuse. I mean, she thinks they do, which is great that she’s still operating under human morality, but she’s not human. HanoverFist Not human perhaps, but still a person who treated another person as an object to be used. Stephanie He’s more a prick for trying to let millions of people die when he could save them by barely lifting a finger, not so much for his incivility…but regardless, Gurwara did not actually say that his being a prick excused Alison’s actions. HanoverFist He was under no obligation to save them. Stephanie We can agree to disagree on whether he had an obligation, but he was a prick for refusing to do it either way. There are a lot of things people aren’t “obligated” to do that still make you a prick if you refuse to do them. For example, you aren’t “obligated” to call 911 or administer first aid to someone who’s having a medical emergency. But if you’re hanging out with someone who starts to choke on their food, and you walk away and leave them to die, you’re a prick. Now multiply that by a shitload of people dying slow, painful deaths from organ failure. weedgoku He actually didn’t refuse to help them. He refused to help Alison, and frankly I would to. Alison didn’t try to bargain, she didn’t try to appeal to him. She didn’t try anything. She made demands of someone she had already aggravated that day, and then jumped straight to violence because that’s the only thing she knows how to do in life. Stephanie He absolutely refused to help them. It doesn’t matter who was the “face” of the request–he chose a course of action that he knew meant letting countless people needlessly die. If someone asks me to save their drowning friend, and I don’t, then I’ve refused to help their friend–not just the person who asked me. Multiply that by millions of people organ failure etc. Mechwarrior By that logic, you’re evil because you’re spending time reading this webcomic when you could be using the same time to help find a vaccine for Zika virus. Stephanie And how exactly am I in a position to find a vaccine for the Zika virus? Your comparison is nonsense and has no relation to Max’s situation. If I somehow had magical blood that could be extracted and used to create a perfect cure, that would at least be someone relevant, but in that case I would have already donated my magical blood because I’m not a prick like Max. Max was in a unique position to easily save an extraordinary number of lives. He chose not to. He intentionally, knowingly chose to allow those people to die needlessly. There is nothing you can accuse me of that compares. Mechwarrior You’re claiming that Max was evil merely for not helping people. By that definition, any time you’re not working to help people, you’re doing evil. You’re not actively doing good while you’re reading this comic, therefore by the logic you’ve been using to call Max evil you must be evil as well. There’s something you could be doing to help with people with Zika, or malaria, or cancer, or whatever. Is this a reasonable position to take? Absolutely not. That’s the entire problem: you’re effectively making everyone evil, and, to paraphrase Syndrome, when everyone’s evil, no one is. Stephanie You are not understanding my argument at all. If you want to have this conversation, reread my posts and respond to what I actually said, not this flimsy strawman argument you made up. I did not say that it is automatically evil to ever spend a single moment of your life not helping people. I said that Max is a prick for refusing to saving millions of people at negligible personal cost. Let me give you an example of what your response sounds like to me. Let’s say that you saw someone kick a puppy. You say to me, “Wow, that guy is a prick for kicking a puppy.” I respond, “Oh, yeah? So anyone who ever kicks anything is evil? If I play soccer I’m evil? What a bad argument!” That would be ridiculous, right? Because you didn’t actually argue that kicking anything is evil, you argued that kicking puppies is wrong. Similarly, I did not argue that it’s evil to ever spend a moment not helping people, so you’re not going to get anywhere if you keep trying to debate an argument I never actually made. Mechwarrior At what level of personal cost does it become acceptable for someone to not help without becoming evil? Stephanie It depends on how awful the consequences will be if they don’t help. I don’t need to give you a specific “prick” cutoff point in order to assert that, whatever it is, Max flew waaaaaay the hell past it. HanoverFist Yep, he was such a prick for refusing aid to the people who would have put him in an internment camp, had they known what he was. Stephanie What are you talking about? Nobody was going to put Max in an internment camp. They didn’t put Alison et al into an internment camp. HanoverFist I seem to recall that when the biodynamic phenomenon became public knowledge the president ordered all biodynamics to turn themselves over to military custody. Stephanie I wouldn’t call that equivalent to an “internment camp,” but either way that sounds like a “the president” problem, not a “millions of powerless people dying of organ failure throughout the next few decades” problem. You aren’t arguing that they all deserve to die because the POTUS made that order, are you? HanoverFist “Trying to let millions of people die” Really? I call it wanting some privacy and agency in his life. Stephanie At the cost of millions of people dying. Mechwarrior Millions of people are still going to die of disease, starvation, war, etc. Is Alison evil because she’s not trying to do anything about any of those? Stephanie When exactly was Alison presented with a method of instantly resolving those other problems at little to no personal cost? Outside of her superhero years, this is the first time she has been in a position to save such an extraordinary number of lives…and she immediately acted on that opportunity. Max, on the other hand, had the opportunity handed to him on a silver platter, and he turned up his nose at it. There is simply no comparison between “I could sort of generically work on a big problem with no real leads or guarantee of making any significant headway for the rest of my life, but instead I’ll explore other options,” and “I have been presented with an immediate solution to a big problem, and am choosing not to act out of spite.” HanoverFist Millions of people die every day from all sorts of things, that does not justify tyranny. Stephanie Millions of people die every day from things that are difficult or impossible to prevent. When an opportunity falls into your lap to save a huge number of them from suffering and death, not to mention sparing their families the grief of losing them, and you choose to let them all die anyway out of spite, you’re a prick. You are a prick for exactly the same reason that you would be a prick to watch someone choking to death in front of you and do nothing about it. I am not debating with you right now about whether Alison was justified in coercing him. I am debating with you on the question of whether or not Max is a prick. Again, Max is a giant veiny prick for choosing to allow millions of people to die slow and painful deaths when he knew he had an easy way to save all of them at his fingertips. Let me ask you something so I can figure out where exactly you stand here: Do you at least agree that if you are alone with someone who is choking to death, and you don’t do anything to help them, that makes you a prick? HanoverFist “Do you at least agree that if you are alone with someone who is choking to death, and you don’t do anything to help them, that makes you a prick?” Yes. That would make me a prick. Let me ask you a counter-question: If you kidnap a person, threaten to break their arm, force them to do something for you and then tell them that you will do it again if you feel like it does that make you a danger to society? Stephanie Again, I’m not talking about Alison’s actions right now, I’m talking about Max’s. So you acknowledge that letting someone choke to death would make you a prick. Why, in that case, do you not think Max was a prick for trying to let millions of people die? Why doesn’t that make him a prick-times-several-million? Is it because he doesn’t personally know the millions of people? Because he isn’t personally witnessing their suffering? Sterling Ericsson I still hold to the same stance I had before. If you could save hundreds, thousands, millions of lives through taking an action at no cost to yourself. Heck, even at a minimal time cost of a few hours or less. And you choose not to do it when that action is offered to you? You’re evil. Period. You are forever morally wrong. MrSing And what do you propose the punishment should be for those people? Cokely So far nobody seems to be willing to go as far as suggest punishment, leaving it at a vague “You should feel bad about yourself.” Sterling Ericsson Force them to do it? Honestly, in a proper society, the response would be to shun the person entirely from everything in society, but this is a bit more complicated of a scenario than that. Cokely Okay, how? MrSing And how would you suggest people should go about forcing these people to do what they want? J4n1 As has previously been pointed out, the potential cost for Max using his powers ranges from minor annoyance to life in slavery/torture and/or death. Giacomo Bandini Actually is the opposite. By NOT using his powers, by keeping thems secrets, he left himself vulnerable to exploitation when the secrets gets in the open. Max was lucky that his secret has been discovered by Patrick: if this would have happened a couple of years before, his secret would be discovered by the frigging supervillain MENACE. The poor kid had a rough choice: reveal his secret and get pubblic support and protection, at the probable cost of a use of a controlled and saltuary use of his powers; or keep the secret, with the reisk of being defensless if discovered? He choosed the latter, and we know how it played. Sterling Ericsson It depends on the case. In this case, no one would know about him using his powers. Thus, that argument doesn’t hold water for this scenario. Filthy Liar The argument isn’t whether Max is an evil prick or whatever. The argument is whether the ends justify the means. Either they do or they don’t. You want to pick the greatest good for the greatest number, you’re going to see a drastic reduction in quality of life. You want to be FYGM, you’ve got to live with that. It doesn’t matter whether someone is evil or not, it matters what you do in response. Stephanie “You want to pick the greatest good for the greatest number, you’re going to see a drastic reduction in quality of life.” I don’t see how that follows–why would aiming to maximize happiness guarantee the exact opposite outcome? Filthy Liar Your happiness comes at the expense of others. Making them happier requires you to be less happy. If you’re aiming to get everyone’s happiness up, quite a few people’s happiness is going to go down, because the maximum happiness the world can support is finite. Stephanie I disagree that the world can only support X amount of happiness, or that all happiness comes at the expense of someone else’s happiness. Happiness isn’t a zero-sum game. Through cooperation and innovation, humans are capable of creating happiness–we don’t just divide up some existing happiness pool. In any case, the whole point of “greatest good for the greatest number” is to achieve as much happiness as possible. By definition, any other approach pursues a lesser amount of happiness (by sacrificing some amount of possible happiness in order to maintain other principles). I don’t see how it makes sense to say that pursuing the greatest good somehow has the opposite effect. Pursuing the greatest good might cause a reduction in the quality of life of the fraction of the human population that is currently absurdly wealthy, but that’s a far cry from a “drastic reduction in quality of life” for people in general. Filthy Liar You’ve made two claims in your first sentence. “I disagree that the world can only support X amount of happiness, or that all happiness comes at the expense of someone else’s happiness.” The first, that the world can infinite happiness, is trivially easy to disprove. Happiness is a human emotion, so X is literally just the maximum amount of humans the Earth can support multiplied by whatever value we assign ‘maximum happiness’. The questions of whether it’s better/people are happier if there are a thousand living in Elysium like conditions and no one else around to suffer, or if there are ten billion living hand to mouth and generally miserable does arise. Stephanie The thing about finite vs infinite happiness is just pedantic. Obviously the limiting factor is the number of humans who exist. That doesn’t make happiness a finite “pool” that can only be shuffled around between humans. An amount of happiness that can be as high as “the maximum possible happiness a person can experience, multiplied by all humans who exist” is functionally infinite with respect to the question “does making one person happy remove happiness from someone else?” You have yet to make a convincing argument that striving to achieve the greatest good for the greatest people is guaranteed to have the opposite effect. Your argument that you could theoretically maximize happiness by just creating an enormous number of people doesn’t really have anything to do with that, but it’s also quickly erased if we consider “the greatest good” to mean both maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering. Michael Smith Which economist are you quoting here? Lex Luthor? Filthy Liar Hah. If you’re aiming to maximize happiness there are two extremes. One person, who is really happy and immortal vs innumerable people who are all miserable but taken together add up to the maximum possible happiness. Sterling Ericsson As I pointed out in another comment, absolute utilitarianism would be a horrible thing and is a horrible axiom. However, it is also true that in most cases and scenarios, the utilitarian choice is often the best one. Not in every case, but in many. This is one such case. Filthy Liar Philosophy professor continues to be the best, and Allison never getting any comeuppance is going to be hilarious. It’s way better if the consequences to your actions are self-imposed ones anyway. Pol Subanajouy Meh, fits his character. I’m down with this reaction. Balthazar Well, thank you Gurwara. Now can we get back to saving the world and global conspiracies, instead of teen angst now please? AustinC123 Is there a word for, or anywhere I can see discussion around, the phenomenon we’re seeing here where the pace of serial storytelling leads to excessive space for the reader to invent their own preferred outcomes and solidify a position that anything other than that ending is unacceptable? Cokely TVTropes has probably coined a phrase for it, so you might check there. palmvos I once saw a forum that had a custom emoji for ‘baseless speculation.’ that almost works. Cokely Checked TV Tropes for it a bit later and certain varieties of “Fan Dumb” come close, but they don’t include that large swathes of this come from the decompressed storytelling and delayed pace. This has made me curious about if/how people wrote about this kind of thing during the heyday of serial fiction in the Victorian period, so there’s that at least. Weatherheight I seem to recall Dickens changing several intended plot outcomes based on public feedback (the death – or lack thereof – of Little Nell was the most egregious example), so I’m sure there was some mechanism, but I wonder to what extant it was linked to readership response via letters or if it was more linked to sales of the periodical and the influence of its publisher and Dickens’ compensation. As to the degree of speculation about the plot irrespective of canon, that is a most interesting idea – thesis or doctorate worthy, potentially. Cokely Pity I’m already neck-deep in a dissertation topic already. Ah well, something for later. Akiva God damn, I want to know that too. I have actually wondered whether some people from here are the same ones who comment on every Girl Genius page with a rant about how much the writers hate Tarvek (or hate Gil? can’t remember, too far behind) and how morally wrong they are for writing him as they do. Probably not? …Probably? Filthy Liar MS Paint Adventures-itis AustinC123 Speculations about and public reactions to serial stories are very old, for sure, but this feels different to me. it’s not the impulse I’m trying to isolate, it’s the activity of arguing for the “correct ending” and working yourself into greater and greater certainty. I think the subject of this speculation is usually whether one can guess the outcome based on story structure and clues, but in this case it seems to be centered around whether the ending will be correct MORALLY, and in effect morally justify the whole story. The discussions after every update, with fans attacking whether the plot points are morally right based on their own hopes for the story but also their own moral philosophy, is really amazing. The discussion itself has solidified opinions, builds sides, and will absolutely make it impossible for the participants to enjoy any outcome other than their favorite. It’s distinct from older examples to reactions to serial stories (Dickens and the Holmes stories for example) because it’s not a reaction to an outcome, it’s a prolonged debate in anticipation of an outcome which refines itself in the minds of the participants as the discussion proceeds. It’s not fan fiction and it’s not quite end-guessing – it’s saying what the ending MUST include in order to retroactively redeem the story from a MORAL perspective. Really interesting. Wormlore Sounds to me like the professor is giving another lesson to Allison. Today’s lesson: theory vs practice. In theory, you’re behaving like a tyrant. In practice, that guy deserved it. In theory and in practice, the teacher is a troll. 😀 Dave Van Domelen The well-founded principle of “**** that guy, he’s a ****.” Magma Sam I’d like to posit an example re: the Alison Choice, and see what people think. Say that there’s a young man pushing a paralyzed middle aged lady in a wheelchair down a lakeside road in the middle of the december cold. They both look over, and see a little kid who broke through the ice, and is now struggling to hold onto the ice ledge but can’t climb back up. The young man simply shrugs. “Welp. Not my problem.” He continues on his way. The lady in the wheelchair he is pushing then pulls out a gun and points it at the young man, stating “Son, you go rescue that damn child. Or else.” Is the paralyzed woman wrong to use her gun to coerce the young man into rescuing the drowning child? Zac Caslar No. I see the Max Problem as being akin to the police legally coercing a witness who’s hiding the location of a wanted criminal. Willfully obstructing the course of the law is a crime, and rightfully so. Kifre So, satisfy my curiosity, what kind of coercion do you think that the police can legally engage in? Zac Caslar Police can lie and intimidate for one. Lying embraces all kind of innuendo and implications. Even pointing out that concealing a criminal could carry penalties is intimidation. Right now there are rather frequent and tragic demonstrations that they can essentially at will kill suspects if they do it out “controlled” environments (and with “unfortunate” body camera malfunctions). Given the stakes involved if the implications were “a madman has poisoned thousands of people and Max is hiding his location” (and they weren’t dissuaded by how wealthy and powerful Max’s family was) I imagine law enforcement could get rather dire. Not something I’d want done on a regular basis, but if we’re talking the scale of “find the Tsarnaev Brothers” than yeah time to make some exceptions. Kifre So paragraph one…well maybe, fine. But I don’t have the energy to go into the constitutional law that mitigates against the legality of what you’re suggesting in the rest of that post. Zac Caslar I respect that. For example Sam Harris makes a point about legalized torture: it shouldn’t exist. Period. But that doesn’t mean it should never be available. Actually happened case in point: a broad daylight abduction in New Zealand. Several witnesses, one suspect, police apprehension, all’s pretty straight forward. Except that the suspect isn’t cooperating. Maybe he’s a fan of the Saw franchise, maybe he’s just like that -being a kidnapper- but he refuses to talk. And the child is baking in the trunk of an unknown car on a very hot August afternoon. The police decide to beat the suspect and now he talks. Kid recovered, happy ending. Should the police have legal recourse to abuse suspects? Absolutely not. Should that child die to protect the rights of the criminal? Absolutely not. So what is the right choice? I think it’s to fail to prosecute the offending officers because the outcome was optimal. This isn’t torture as SOP, and if the child had died anyway the officers should have been charged so that it’s understood that at best that the choice to torture is a gamble only taken rarely. This is as they say a “corner case,” a convergence of extremes. No other suspects, obvious crime, clear necessity of extreme action, etc. But all that is also about making a judgement call. And the obvious retort is the usual “slippery slope” wherein today a suspect is beaten and tomorrow the museums are raided for the Inquisition’s tools. Relevant to SFP is the absence of a clear moral mandate. There is no “right all the time every time” answer. But it is a real world situation with real world outcomes. And I’d choose to gamble to save an innocent over staying “clean” while knowing a child was baking to death at the cost of the rights of her attacker. What would you choose? Mechwarrior How many times is it acceptable to torture a suspect and fail to yield useful information? What’s the acceptable frequency rate for torturing the wrong suspect? Zac Caslar That’s a good question! I sincerely believe the base number is zero, but I wouldn’t spend the life of someone else on the proposition. If I had to find some kind of baseline it would be that the number is zero if someone will not IMMEDIATELY die in the absence of action. We’ve had a decade to establish that torturing suspects for “actionable intelligence” amounts to a less than useful waste of humanity. So while I really didn’t like 24, if the actual proposition is “there is a bomb and we have the bomber and we NEED the latter to tell us about the former because we don’t have time” then torture might be necessary. And that’s still a weak maybe with a definite “no matter what this is still illegal as hell.” Zac Caslar Goddamnit my reply got eaten. Ok. Take 2. Tl;dr. there is no definite number above zero and even than the circumstances would need to be, imo, of the LIKELY IMMEDIATE DEATH variety with a stern emphasis on “no matter what this is illegal as hell.” Whatever else we have to not be a society that tortures irrespective of why -tho’ it’s totally too late for that. Haw haw -GWB. That said, the obvious retort of “how many people would you let die before you’d torture someone obviously cuplable” bears out for being the other side of the coin. There are no easy answers, but those are damn important questions! Zac Caslar teeeeeesting Micah Matheson False Equivalence – the scenario you have proposed not comparable to the original Allison/Max conundrum, and as such cannot be used as a proper analogy. A better scenario: Young, healthy person pushing a disabled person in a wheelchair. Little kid breaks through the ice and starts to drown, can’t get out on his own. Another passerby sees the situation and leaps to the rescue. The disabled person asks their helper to assist, and the helper refuses, citing a want to not get involved. The disabled person then makes their demand at gunpoint. Virgil Clemens Seems like a close enough analogy to me. There were tonnes of people not being saved by Feral’s organ donation system, Max enabled her to save those additional people. For your revision to be “better”, you need multiple kids in the ice and that passerby is clearly incapable of saving all of them in time. Simplifying the moving parts by excising the passerby and the people he’s helping, in terms of overall math and what’s being asked, is a reasonable thing for this analogy. Micah Matheson That’s a fair way to look at how the original scenario was presented – you’re right. I still consider the paralyzed woman’s actions to be wrong. Forcing someone to perform an act against their will through violence, no matter how positive the outcome, is wrong. The refusal to assist is *also wrong*, but that does not make the paralyzed woman’s actions right. Magma Sam Additionally, the situation is simple enough to be a real-case scenario. Could be in 1980s, where cellphones weren’t prolific. A kid playing outside from a cabin home. It has the advantage of being kinda realistic without blatant need of supernatural powers to cut to the real question: Is it okay to coerce somebody through violence to perform a helpful act, when they have the means to help and you do not? Obviously, forcing somebody to perform an act against their will through violence is wrong. Refusing to assist a drowning child despite possessing the means to help is also wrong. The woman has two general choices here, given her situation. One: Help the drowning child (via coercing the young man who simply cannot be convinced any other way to help). Two: Casually roll away and listen to the child’s screams as they slowly slide under (abandoning the child to drown, despite being in full possession of “One” to stop it from occurring). I get that most people that take umbrage with the stance above, and the dilemma/Alison, is that they hold the position “If you do something Bad, you’re Wrong, full stop.” I personally find this injunction strange, because it suggests that morality is simplified down to a singular level of Wrongness, which is to be avoided like the plague. Specifically, it suggests maintaining this moral high ground of is more important than the real cost of somebody dying. I highly doubt that when talking to the grieving mother, she will be much consoled by “Well, I could have saved your son. But to do that I would have had to marginally inconvenience a dude. That would be Wrong, so, you know. It couldn’t be helped. I, personally, did absolutely nothing wrong.” weedgoku “Well, I could have saved your son. But to do that I would have had to marginally inconvenience a dude.” But it’s more than that. She didn’t just block the road with a car or something, like you’re making it sound. She abused private information, physically harmed him and has put his life potentially at risk by spreading that private information around and by forcing him to operate in the open. Even if they did it at night in a dark room, there were likely security cameras and who knows who else could have been around. One life does not trump another, and you don’t get to throw one person to the dogs just because you value another person’s life more. If you want to sacrifice yourself, go ahead. But forcing someone else to sacrifice themselves is simply barbaric. Fairportfan I always kinda liked him. Now he just took a level in Smart Ass… AustinC123 HYPOTHETICAL TIME Let’s say my mother was on the ground, throat closed, full anaphylaxis. Let’s say a nearby man had epinephrine right in his nearby house. He just needs to open the door and let me get it. He doesn’t want to, though. I would grab that guy and punch him until he opened the door and let me save my mom. weedgoku This metaphor, and the whole analogy actually, would work better if Max’s power led to a cure for cancer and she was doing it for her dad rather than just to get her bff out of self imposed medical hell. And on behalf of supposed millions we’ll never really see or care about. In your case, you could still be tried for assault though. Dude is being an asshole no doubt, but that doesn’t make it okay. It’s really not hard to see the logical leaps from “She needs this, it’s important” to “I need this, it’s important” “I want this, I think it’s important” “I want this”. Besides, it’s his epinephrine. His reasons for not letting you have it are his own. They might even, shockingly, be that he has an allergy that requires him to use it and like you, would rather let a stranger die then kill himself for the sake of nobility. AustinC123 For the sake of this discussion could we just accept that she did indeed both save her friend from constant torturous pain and also save a bunch of innocent lives, as the comic has told us and seems to want us to believe? We can argue about what her reason was for doing what she did – I think they’re complicated, she was looking for a way between two very hard facts (Feral is in agony, Feral will not accept less than the most good she can provide) and this was her solution – but let’s just say, to avoid this particular argument, that she succeeded in her primary goal of sparing her friend pain and also added to the total number of lives saved. All that said: the point I’m making is I would do it and it wouldn’t feel to me like a bad thing to do. I would also, aside from that, feel I would have a solid chance of persuading a jury of my peers to be lenient. weedgoku Oh I believe she saved a lot of people. I just don’t it was actually her main motivation. There are a lot of ways to help out a lot of people. Yet she only chooses the one that also helps her bff. Yet she also does this thing without really thinking about how it could potentially impact feral as we still don’t know if there will be any fallout from using Max’s powers (personally speaking, I doubt it. But that’s just because I find the writer to be spineless) I just don’t get why people keep patting Alison on the back, basically. She barges in and gets to do what she wants to whoever she wants and anyone who disapproves gets painted as the bad guy when she’s forcing things on people without their consent, trying to use emotional pleas to guilt people into doing what she wants for personal reason and when all else fails, just straight up resorts to violence and bullying all while invading someone’s privacy and putting their entire existence at risk. She isn’t the hero of the comic. She’s the villain. AustinC123 And I think it says a lot about the quality of the writing that readers can be so split on that issue, but regardless. The main unforgivable sin which folks (like you I think, apologies if that’s an unfair assumption) seem to not get past is: Alison imposed her will upon a person who had not himself committed a sin. She forced him to do something he didn’t want to, and that is not ok. So, my analogy tries to put myself in a roughly analogous situation. A person I love is suffering (or, a great evil is happening). A person has the means to end that suffering. He refuses to do so for no reason I can understand as ‘good enough.’ I can, by physical force, bring about the outcome I want at the expense of his volition. Would you push the guy down and take his keys in order to save your mom? Or would you accept that he is an autonomous human who gets to make his own decisions about the resources he owns and watch your mom choke to death? weedgoku I would ask to buy it from him. actually. I wouldn’t resort to violence until I had explored every possible means I had otherwise. AustinC123 But you would resort to violence eventually, yes? The point I’m trying to make here is that the use of violence to deprive an innocent person of their own volition is USUALLY, but NOT ALWAYS, the wrong choice. Agreed? It’s the specifics of Alison’s situation, however you characterize them, that lead to your disapproval, not the absolute fact that she did an act like this? In another situation where you were convinced she had no choice, this would be acceptable? weedgoku Not unless I had zero other choice, and there are a great many choices available to a dialogue. Even if he shut them all down one by one there would almost always be another one and it is far more likely that the victim would die as asphyxiation before I would have to resort to violence. In Alison’s case she leaped to violence because that is what she enjoys, has admitted to enjoying and admitted to desiring to do more often. Edward L. Howell You said “Alison imposed her will upon a person who had not himself committed a sin. She forced him to do something he didn’t want to, and that is not ok.” This is a very absolutist position. Suppose I were to force you, by threat of yelling, to play the piano when you didn’t want to? Is this equivalent to forcing you to rob a bank under threat of detonating the device around your neck? Suppose I were an employer and I forced you, through threat of ending your health insurance, to exercise and lose 50 pounds, even though you really really don’t want to. Is this equivalent (forgive me here) to forcing you, through threat of cutting your throat, into a rape? I submit that there are levels of coercion, and levels of damage caused by such coercion. I further submit the the damage to Max that Allison caused was not that much, and the coercion she inflicted was not that severe. AustinC123 I invite you to read any of the rest of my post(s) and discover that that is the point I am making! The quote was a rhetorically absolutist straw man. Edward L. Howell You are correct, I put my poor reading comprehension down to overwork and overtired; I stand corrected as to your intent. 🙂 Filthy Liar So? She’s not actually wrong. Saving the lives of millions of people does in fact outweigh the potential damage to (in no particular order) Max, Feral, and herself. I mean, castigate her all you like, she saved millions and you given the same situation wouldn’t. Pretty villainous. Hiram “This is me being sympathetic. If you want my philosophical perspective you may *takes a long drag* get schooled.” Rugains Fleuridor All these smart people thinking and stuff… I just want to see this guy talk.