Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy

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There's no "frakking" way I could generate a good overview of a show like Battlestar Galactica. Only a show like Battlestar Galactica could take a derogatory word we all know and sensor it in a way that gives it emphasis, hence the "frakking" genius behind the Battlestar Galactica series. However, the show cannot be explained in just one word. The realistic feel to the military comradery and operations that take place within the show allow one who has never been in the military to imagine the experience. Also, the crew of Galactica are all very genuine and believable characters who are driven by basic human needs and desires. There are also fine examples of how a crew works together under good leadership. In a way, the plot revolves around leaders such as the character of Commander Adama. One can watch as emotions flair and problems escalate throughout the progression of the story. Yet Adama builds strength in his crew from the conflicts. I will argue Commander Adama's actions toward the beginning of the series were utilitarian due to his view of Cylons as lifeless objects. However, his reasoning becomes difficult to determine as he develops a love for crew members that reveal their Cylon identities. In this essay I will briefly explain Utilitarianism as understood from philosophers such as Bentham and Peter Singer. Secondly, I will introduce William Adama and the crew aboard the Galactica. Lastly and most importantly, I will provide examples of Adama’s utilitarian actions throughout the show. The theory behind the philosophy of Utilitarianism stems from a man named Jeremy Bentham. In Bentham’s essay The Utilitarian Calculus, he endeavors to document suffering on the basis that man at his core is purely hedonistic. “Motivational hedonism is the claim that only pleasure or pain motivates us.”(Moore) To Bentham, beings controlled by pleasure and pain bear the moral responsibility to limit pain and maximize pleasure to its greatest extent. He had advocated for the rights of animals so that they may be considered equals on the basis that they feel pain just as we do. There are still philosophers today, such as Peter Singer that believe in Jeremy Bentham’s views in utilitarianism. Peter Singer believes just as Jeremy Bentham does concerning animals and that only creatures that can feel pain should be counted within the utilitarian calculus. “A stone does not have interests because it cannot suffer, nothing that we can do to it could possibly make any difference to its welfare. The capacity for suffering and enjoyment is however, not only necessary, but also sufficient for us to say that a being has interests and at an absolute minimum, an interest in not suffering.”

William Adama is a well-seasoned combat veteran who over his military career has become commander of the Battlestar ship known as Galactica. He lives on a planet far away from earth that has a history much more dated than our own and technology much more advanced. The world in which they call their home has been eradicated of human life due to tactics of an enemy they had never expected, robots that call themselves Cylons. The only surviving humans left are those that have abandoned the planet and fled the invading Cylon attack aboard military or civilian spacecraft. The crew aboard the Battlestar Galactica fight for the survival of the human race against the robotic army threatening their extinction. They are left to search the galaxy looking for a new home, a place far away from the Cylon menace. The show itself gathers a viewer’s interest by portraying a story of humankind from a utilitarian point of view. Within the ethical theory of utilitarianism, everything that feels pain has a place for concern and the goal is to give the least possible pain for those that can feel it. On the show, this becomes a problematic consideration as the robotic Cylons not only feel pain as humans do but they act and look like humans as well. It is impossible to determine the...
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