Friday, May 23, 2008

The Morality of Storm Troopers

I'm listening to the "LOST" podcast with the executive producers (shut up, it's cool), and they received a question about whether the "bad guys" on "LOST" actually realize they're bad guys. In other words, do they understand they are evil, or are they convinced they're doing the right thing? And then the reader used the example of the storm troopers in "Star Wars" thinking that they're fighting for the right side.

One of the guys (I always forget which is which) gave the example of Luke Skywalker's aunt and uncle being murdered, and their farm being destroyed by the storm troopers, and insisted that no storm trooper is going to murder a farming couple and wreck their homestead and still say to himself, "I'm doing the right thing." The other guy responded that, in their minds, this couple raised a rebel leader, but the first commenter pointed out that this isn't known yet. (Fair point, though if the couple in question was in possession of stolen military secrets, it's easy to suspect them of being part of the rebellion.)

I think this is a really interesting question to address. Do the storm troopers think they're on the right side? Think about it: the Empire defeated the Droid Army and brought stability to the galaxy, and now an guerrilla force is rising up to overthrow the people in power. If you're a foot soldier in the Imperial Army, you'd see the rebels as bad guys, right?


Obviously, this is a difficult question, with difficult answers. And the parallels to current realities can be drawn pretty easily, though to do so would mean oversimplifying a complex reality.

I'll leave this open for discussion, then, but with this follow-up question: was it moral for the Rebel Alliance to blow up the second Death Star, knowing there were probably hundreds of thousands or millions of civilians on board? Does it make their actions any less moral?

Of course, there is a counter-argument:

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