Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Greater Good

Sorry to give another Harry Potter reference.....

While covering Utilitarianism in class I recognized a connection between this philosophy and the seventh book of Harry Potter. In the last book, Harry discovers a letter between Dumbledore and  a Dark wizard in which Dumbledore mentions "The Greater Good." In the letter he is referring to the oppression of muggles (or non-wizards). This concept seemed like its was derived from Utilitarianism, in that he justifies wrongdoings by saying that is for the greater good of the entire society, or in this case, the wizarding world. Sooo yeah, HP and Utilitarianism!

4 comments:

Brooke M. Hathaway said...

I definitely see the "greatest happiness for the greatest number" connection. Dumbledore is willing to sacrifice himself, as well as the safety of Harry and Snape to defeat Voldemort.

Not only Dumbledore, but the entire Order is willing to sacrifice themselves to achieve the greater good. The only difference between their philosophy and that of Utilitarianism I think is the question of the individual. From certain works on the subject we've read, particularly that of Mill, there seems to be more of a focus on individual utility, whereas I see Dumbledore and the Order as entirely selfless.

Samantha Gillen said...

I think people use the excuse "we're helping the greater good" a lot of the time. They are probably unaware that they are referencing utilitarianism, though. I do not believe in utilitarianism for this reason. I find it gives the majority an easy excuse to subjugate the minority "for the greater good." Also, its completely impractical. When would two men ever discuss their love for a women in such a civilized manner as Kirsanov and Lopukhov. Maybe their are some extremely composed, pacifistic men out their like Kirsanov and Lopukhov, but I definitely haven't met any of them yet.

Miranda Martinez said...

I agree, I too see the connection between Harry Potter and utilitarianism. I dislike seeing it in that light, but the connection seems plausible. I believe the scene you mentioned was Dumbledore v. Grindelwald. Since he sacrificed himself "for the Greater Good," it seems fitting that he would parallel (somewhat) to Gregor.

Kincy GIbson said...

Honestly, you could even stretch utilitarianism to sports. When you block an air shot at the goal, your team expects you to "take one for the team" with your face. This idea of self sacrifice is embed in every sport and people/fans praise the player when he sacrifices his body for the goal. Although, one could say this is not utilitarianism at all. The player could want to sacrifice his body even more than the other players to block that goal or win the game. Its hard to say whether utilitarianism applies when everyone has a team mentality or works for one common cause.