View Poll Results: Is superman responsible?

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  • Yes, clark is responsible. 20 people trumps one person

    2 11.76%
  • No, he isn't. Deaths are unfortunate.

    11 64.71%
  • I don't know. I am either confused or really, don't have an opinion

    4 23.53%
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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Default Superman's morality

    I wanted to discuss superman's morality. It's strengths and It's limits . I would restrict my discussion to the post crisis version,strictly. That after his arc with zod and exile is finished.The one who has clearly formed moral positions. I don't want any version conflict nonsense.

    he wouldn't let a person die no matter what, even if it meant letting 20 others die. So, he will save the girl. That's his position.he saying humanity wouldn't want him too.So, my question is what would happen if clark does save a person and twenty people really does die?Do you believe clark holds any responsibility for the dead? Why do you feel the way you do? My take, i don't know. I have no answer.On one hand clark has great power. With that power and augmented senses he would be responsible for making big decisions that reduces suffering as much as his powers allows him to. Here, i wouldn't call Clark's choice would be reducing any suffering. He essentially let 20 others die . On, the other hand letting someone die when you can help them is wrong.
    Either way, he did make a choice. It is respectable and brave.i don't think i could make choices like this.
    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 11-03-2019 at 10:41 AM.

  2. #2
    Astonishing Member marhawkman's Avatar
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    The issue here is that the whole discussion is hypothetical. Arion posed a question, and never really explained the scenario. How/why? We don't know, thus the question is ultimately meaningless, as to answer is ultimately an uninformed choice based on a pale abstraction of reality. life isn't binary. There is never only two choices.

  3. #3
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marhawkman View Post
    The issue here is that the whole discussion is hypothetical. Arion posed a question, and never really explained the scenario. How/why? We don't know, thus the question is ultimately meaningless, as to answer is ultimately an uninformed choice based on a pale abstraction of reality. life isn't binary. There is never only two choices.
    You are just basically avoiding the question. Hypothetical or not those kind of situations do happen. What do you mean binary? This isn't right vs wrong kind of thing.Also, I have provided a third option for people. Post crisis superman did make a choice. That choice has consequences. My question is simple suppose that really does happen. Clark saves 1 person and fails 20. Does clark have any responsibility?

  4. #4
    Mighty Member Yoda's Avatar
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    If this is your calculus then either he spends every waking second of his life saving people - literally never stopping at all - until he dies or he's morally responsible for every single death on the planet that he hypothetically could have stopped. Every second, every time he speaks to Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, etc. He's letting people die all over the world. So yes, he has to let a plane crash in China with 300 people on it, because a boat is sinking in the pacific that has 1200. He has to let that one women be raped and killed because two people are about to get shot. He can't have a personal life. Can't have friends, acquaintances, anything. He's just a constant blur saving lives until he dies.

    Does he have to weigh the value of life as well? Is one cancer researcher worth 100 children? A family of four more important to save than four individuals?

    This doesn't interest me at all because it all breaks down when you look at it like this. It's Morrison's quote:

    Even as Hollywood transforms itself into a superhero-industrial complex, struggling to find “gritty” and “realistic” takes on flying Übermenschen in rubber suits, Morrison revels in the glorious madness of these stories. “People say kids can’t understand the difference between fact and fiction, but that’s bullshit,” he says. “Kids understand that real crabs don’t sing like the ones in The Little Mermaid. But you give an adult fiction, and the adult starts asking really fucking dumb questions like ‘How does Superman fly? How do those eyebeams work? Who pumps the Batmobile’s tires?’ It’s a fucking made-up story, you idiot! Nobody pumps the tires!”

  5. #5
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    If this is your calculus then either he spends every waking second of his life saving people - literally never stopping at all - until he dies or he's morally responsible for every single death on the planet that he hypothetically could have stopped. Every second, every time he speaks to Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, etc. He's letting people die all over the world. So yes, he has to let a plane crash in China with 300 people on it, because a boat is sinking in the pacific that has 1200. He has to let that one women be raped and killed because two people are about to get shot. He can't have a personal life. Can't have friends, acquaintances, anything. He's just a constant blur saving lives until he dies.

    Does he have to weigh the value of life as well? Is one cancer researcher worth 100 children? A family of four more important to save than four individuals?

    This doesn't interest me at all because it all breaks down when you look at it like this. It's Morrison's quote:
    This isn’t my calculas. I just wanted to know what's the consensus is among superman fans. Everyone has different opinion. So, i take it you don't hold superman responsible? That's perfectly fine.
    Well, that's exactly what he could do. Moral choice if you ask me wouldbe to help toyour maximum capacity. I mean, clark can't be everywhere .As for cancer researcher, depends on the knowledge he/she has if you are asking me. But, this superman probably would choose whom ever is first and nearest.if its 100 children then he would save hundred and if its cancer researcher she will be the one saved.
    Realism has nothing to do with what i am saying though. I can understand clark would save both one person and 20 person at the same time. But, sometimes people like seeing consequences for cathartic purposes.but, that's besides the point. So, i don't hold it against story teller who goes for moments of failure . For example superman Killing zod, captain america scarlet witch moment in civil war. It was a cathartic moment for many soldiers or people who were stuck in those positions.
    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 11-03-2019 at 12:06 PM.

  6. #6
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    I went with Superman not being responsible. For me the devil is in the details and the details aren't always clear.

    Superman sees a kid falling out a window and being Superman he saves the kid. Now, twenty years later, according to Booster Gold, the kid grows up to be a criminal who kills twenty people. If Superman doesn't know it, he's definitely not responsible, in my mind. But if Booster tells him before that save you have the question of whether Booster has the facts right, whether the future is set in stone, and what happens if Superman lets the kid die. Maybe if the kid gets help after he is saved he goes down a path where he doesn't become that criminal. Maybe, letting the kid die causes a dozen other people to lose hope and become criminals themselves. Maybe history is reasonable consistent and whether Joe Jones lives or dies makes no differentce, if Joe doesn't kill those twenty some other killer(s) will.

    People die everyday. They die whether or not Superman saves a hundred, or a thousand, or even whole planets. So Superman can't save everyone.
    He can't be sure that those he saves are more or less deserving than those who don't. So he can't choose everytime to save the more important lives- he might save the next Gandhi instead of the man who cures ALS, but it is a better chance he just saves you or me at the cost of the guy up the street.
    And without his acting there is just a larger deathcount.
    He doesn't have to save anyone. He chooses to. And that makes it his choice to decide in each instance who he saves.
    If he comes upon a burning building with 20 people trapped. It's his choice if he tries to save people first or hope he can put the fire out before anyone is hurt, If he decides it's better to get the people out, then he gets to decide if he first saves the woman who is closest, the man who is suffocating from the smoke, or the reporter who ran into the burning building for an interview .

    And for me I wouldn't want him to have a hard and fast checklist he consults everytime he has to decide. If the he comes on two fires with a dozen people inside, I want him to do his best in both situations rather than dawdle over the similarities and differences. Save who he can and worry about why he saved people in the order he did later. Save the people he can and not waste time trying to decide which disaster involves more people, or is closest, or seems to imply some social/political agenda.

  7. #7
    Father Son Kamehameha < Kuwagaton's Avatar
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    A less experienced isn't strictly what I would call "wrong" but it does take a part of the character away from the rest.
    Superman emphatically understands that he can only do what he's able to do, no matter how extraordinary. He isn't pleased with himself in light of the people he couldn't save, but he understands truths of nature and death, and knows that any step back he takes to self doubt or general discouragement is only going to make the problem worse. He can lose twenty while saving one or vice versa depending on how things happened, but he's not a vain control freak when it comes to the grand scheme.

    I'm tempted to read Camelot Falls in some ways, because writers like Busiek tend to still ask those questions of an experienced and competent Superman without sacrificing much character appeal. Those are the best kind of entry stories imo, even if it's not my desired style.

    As for killing the criminals, I thought that honestly they may have made him too apologetic. Those guys were literally the worst, even if I'm not for the death penalty I think these ridiculously evil characters in stories deserve it. Great character developments followed that one but a lot of his initial turmoil and occasional nightmares over executing to me was a bit much. Of course Brainiac was a big part in that. At some point I think that understanding natural order means understanding that lethal people bring death upon themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post

    This doesn't interest me at all because it all breaks down when you look at it like this. It's Morrison's quote:
    That's surprisingly condescending for Morrison.
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  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Powerboy's Avatar
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    It's a psychological test to which, of course, there is no right or more moral answer. It's the dilemma Ozymandias faced in "Watchmen". At most it determines how you think and what you would do in a given situation or at least what you believe you would do which can be totally different than what you would really do.

    Given the situation exactly as presented in the comic, I would probably want Superman to do what he did as there is not absolute proof Arion is right while there is absolute proof of what would happen if Superman didn't save the lives.

    There's also the personal reaction of not being able to allow someone to die right in front of you as opposed to abstract deaths that you may never see or experience.

    To take it up a notch, what if he was psychic and personally experienced the deaths that happened because he saved one person as if they were happening right in front of him? Now it's just as personal.

    The problem is that he's then as responsible- or just as not responsible- either way. So there is no answer to which makes him more responsible or which is the better or worse decision. There's really only the reaction in the moment. Can he bring himself to allow that person falling off the building screaming in terror to hit the pavement and die because twenty other people will live? We'll say it's a fact and not a case where he can not accept the no-win scenario and find a way.

    It's an impossible question to answer. It's meant to be intellectually a show-stopper where there is no logical answer but only human reaction, emotion.

    Within the context of fiction, I generally prefer he save the person and realize the information Arion gave him, just by knowing it, changes what would have happened, that, as Superman, he changes the world in such a way that this dark future never happens.

    But he really faces that sort of thing every day as others have pointed out. I once expressed to a friend the "contradiction" that I'm an atheist yet I feel some things are good and some evil. The answer was, of course, was because you have emotions. Intellectual knowledge is one thing but you can't live like a Vulcan where logic is all that matters 24/7. We even had the discussion about how Superman allows someone to die by having a life as Clark Kent, by chatting with Jimmy or by rescuing Lois who he's in love with while a dozen other people in the world are facing deaths he could prevent at the exact same instant and he chooses to save this person rather than that person or someone he loves. Or someone dies because he has his super hearing and vision powers shut off while he's on a date with Lois rather than being a "human" rocket 24/ 7, every instant of his life. Or because he has a job and friends. As my friend pointed out, yup, and he'd maybe save everybody depending on his level of speed and power in that version- until a few years went by and he went stark-raving insane and just stopped because he couldn't stand living as a meteor blurring from place to place with no human existence at all.

    The scenario is unsolvable because he's human in every way that matters. If he were omnipotent, it would be a different question but he's not.
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  9. #9
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    If it was the Sentry he would have a nervous breakdown and scream about how it's tearing him apart. Clark of course is more stable and realistically knows that he can't save everyone so he has to prioritize and live with the consequences of his decisions. When the action of saving one child will kill twenty people immediately the standard response of the superhero is to change the scenario so no one dies but if it is impossible to achieve then he will have to make a choice between the two and live with his choice. There can be no judgement as we can't ourselves say what the correct course of action would be in such a scenario.

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, for the responses. I was scared before posting this. But, the main reason posted this is because clark makes choices one way or another. It's incredibly brave of him. He isn't an indecisive person. Or someone who can throws the rule book out the window, entirely (cough! Cough! Clark spins back time in donner movie). He makes choices . These choices have consequences(at least in perception). I am sure clark is well aware of that. I think that's one chain(action->consequences) that clark should never be able to fully break like in some of the donner movie. Because its incredibly cathartic. It focuses on the "man". Otherwise, it's just supergod. I also wanted to appreciate his decisiveness.
    One of the best moments in donner movie was when clark lost pa. Even all star superman didn't have clark break that chain.
    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 11-03-2019 at 10:14 PM.

  11. #11
    (formerly "Superman") JAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manwhohaseverything View Post
    Thanks guys, for the responses. I was scared before posting this. But, the main reason posted this is because clark makes choices one way or another. It's incredibly brave of him. He isn't an indecisive person. Or someone who can throws the rule book out the window, entirely (cough! Cough! Clark spins back time in donner movie). He makes choices . These choices have consequences(at least in perception). I am sure clark is well aware of that. I think that's one chain(action->consequences) that clark should never be able to fully break like in some of the donner movie. Because its incredibly cathartic. It focuses on the "man". Otherwise, it's just supergod. I also wanted to appreciate his decisiveness.
    One of the best moments in donner movie was when clark lost pa. Even all star superman didn't have clark break that chain.
    He does make choices. But I don't like the idea of him never being able to break the chain. That's a huge point of the character - him beating impossible looking odds or finding a way. It's all in presentation. Are there rare situations where he makes a judgement call and goes with it? Absolutely. But he's going to do everything in his power to break the option chain if he has any way of doing it. And this is Superman - 99% of the time, he has a way. Anything else is just too cynical of an approach to work for the character in any long-term capacity.

    None of that has anything to do with situations that happen when he's not there, of course - that's a whole different thing entirely, that he can't help because he's elsewhere.
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  12. #12
    Astonishing Member manwhohaseverything's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAK View Post
    He does make choices. But I don't like the idea of him never being able to break the chain. That's a huge point of the character - him beating impossible looking odds or finding a way. It's all in presentation. Are there rare situations where he makes a judgement call and goes with it? Absolutely. But he's going to do everything in his power to break the option chain if he has any way of doing it. And this is Superman - 99% of the time, he has a way. Anything else is just too cynical of an approach to work for the character in any long-term capacity.

    None of that has anything to do with situations that happen when he's not there, of course - that's a whole different thing entirely, that he can't help because he's elsewhere.
    I said almost, didn't i. I would be against him permanently breaking that chain. I am ok with him breaking it for certain stories .See, even then i would prefer it to be journey unlike the moment where spun the time back. It has to be earned and clark would have to struggle fir it. Because that's 'the human' in us and superman , right? We are always trying to find new possibilities to relieve human suffering. That's the ideal. It should be like full metal alchemist.
    To quote alphonse elric, "Humanity's advancement is founded on looking for new possibilities instead of being bound by general principles". If this search itself becomes too easy or too quick without struggle. Then it wouldn't be much fun to read. Would it? Further more, i believe this search itself is within confines of the chain of action-> consequences. We as well as superman are stuck in places. So we try to find new solutions to get out of it.
    “A lesson without pain is meaningless. That's because no one can gain without sacrificing something. But by enduring that pain and overcoming it, he shall obtain a powerful, unmatched heart. A fullmetal heart.”
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    Last edited by manwhohaseverything; 11-04-2019 at 11:42 AM.

  13. #13
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    I always thought this question was kind of answered under the death of the Kents or at least one of the Kents. Guy spends his whole life from early childhood saving people but eventually fails to save the people closest to him. Death is a part of life, pretty much the only certainty you can have about it. I figured Superman's overall focus was mainly on injustice and using what skills and abilities he had he tried to make life fairer than it actually is in reality but at the end of day he's not an all powerful deity. Hercules was a demigod but he still was made to bear Hera's wrath for things that were completely out of his control. Same with Superman, good times come with the bad; is it really Superman's fault if he isn't fast enough or strong enough to save every single person?

    I'd like to think even if we end up giving him a D for results he would have been putting in a A tier effort 100% of the time.
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  14. #14
    (formerly "Superman") JAK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by manwhohaseverything View Post
    I said almost, didn't i. I would be against him permanently breaking that chain. I am ok with him breaking it for certain stories .See, even then i would prefer it to be journey unlike the moment where spun the time back. It has to be earned and clark would have to struggle fir it. Because that's 'the human' in us and superman , right? We are always trying to find new possibilities to relieve human suffering. That's the ideal. It should be like full metal alchemist.
    To quote alphonse elric, "Humanity's advancement is founded on looking for new possibilities instead of being bound by general principles". If this search itself becomes too easy or too quick without struggle. Then it wouldn't be much fun to read. Would it? Further more, i believe this search itself is within confines of the chain of action-> consequences. We as well as superman are stuck in places. So we try to find new solutions to get out of it.
    “A lesson without pain is meaningless. That's because no one can gain without sacrificing something. But by enduring that pain and overcoming it, he shall obtain a powerful, unmatched heart. A fullmetal heart.”
    Edward elric. In superman's case, its heart made of steel i guess.
    Of course - I'm speaking in general.

    Not everything needs to be a search or a journey, though - in the grander sense. I think sometimes we (myself included) can get too hung up on that. For an origin story/etc, absolutely, and in many other cases, too. But there's also the idea of growth where we learn to do something we didn't know before. Where he doesn't (and we don't see right away) the solution, but he finds it. That's growth, but doesn't necessarily need negative consequences to make it better.

    I understand the concept, don't get me wrong, but I find that every lesson needing pain is too overwrought. Some lessons certainly do, and I'm not saying there shouldn't be any pain ever. But not all of them should.
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  15. #15
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    I know this is suppose to be focused on Post-Crisis Superman but IIRC there was a Pre-Crisis story that dealt with Superman being caught up saving people in one event while a school bus felt into a river and the class along with the teachers drowned to death. Superman was sort of struggling with it all and IIRC he was catching heat from the public over it as well.
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