Is Peter Parker morally obliged to be a superhero?
Spiderman, a Marvel Comic hero, is serious business both as box office smashing success and an ethical dilemma. Is it true that great powers come with great responsibility? Initially Peter Parker didn’t think so. Who cares is the attitude? Ethics will have it as “love your neighbour as yourself” and “Do unto others if you want others do unto you”.
"Philosophy starts with Socrates in the streets of Athens taking his message to the people and speaking in their language - agricultural analogies and common mythology." Through the centuries, though, philosophers retreated into academia, creating a convoluted vocabulary that can appear inaccessible to the average first-year university student - those "deontological" ethics for example.
Great power, great responsibility?
Superhero-based thought experiments can help people grapple with ethical dilemmas in an unsentimental fashion. Great powers come with great responsibility?
Peter Parker's Uncle Ben told him that with great power comes great responsibility, an axiom that thematically recurs through the series (Image courtesy Marvel Entertainment)
Imagine for example, that you are Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) and you have just discovered that you have superpowers. Do you have a moral obligation to use your new-found powers to help others?
The question to explore consequentialism, an approach to morality which, as the name suggests, judges the rightness or wrongness of an action based solely on its outcomes.
A consequentialist would be likely to argue that Peter Parker has a moral responsibility to be Spider-Man because that decision would bring about the greatest good.
But Peter Parker was also a talented scientist, so a non-consequentialist could argue that fulfilling his...