Torchwood, Egoism, And Utilitarianism Essay

2074 words - 8 pages

Torchwood’s third season “Children of Earth,” contains many momentous events which question human rationality, having good sagacity, judgment, and equanimity. Throughout these events two ethical philosophies unravel. The first philosophy, egoism, actions with solely one’s interests in mind, plays a major role in the season. Ethical egoists believe that one should look out for no one else but themselves, and a theory of psychological egoism states that whatever the reasoning is behind an action, the action is always an individual’s self-interest. The inconceivable enthralling events in the season are due to the 456’s yearning for ten percent of the children population. However, their request is not based upon a life-supporting necessity, but merely an egotistical longing for a pleasurable “high” the children supply them with. The second philosophy, utilitarianism, is based on Jeremy Bentham’s principle of utility, actions which amplify happiness and diminish pain for the majority of people, play an essential role. To restrain the heinous act from occurring, Jack sacrifices his own grandson, Steven, to spare the lives of the other children on Earth.
The 456 are at fault for the outlandish children-related incidences around the world. The children stop in mid-action and recite exact words at the same time for five consecutive days. These events are linked to a previous abduction by the 456 in 1965. The only two people conscious of the previous abduction are immortal Captain Jack, who was there during the abduction, and the Home Office Permanent Secretary John Frobisher. For most of the first episodes, Torchwood members, Jack, Ianto, and Gwen, know nothing of the situation, but are able to communicate with an insider, Lois Habiba, who keeps them well-informed with all the events taking place; for this reason, Habiba is later imprisoned for treason and espionage. Upon the 456’s arrival, the government is notified of the 456’s request, it being ten percent of the children population. This request is an example of the psychological egoism idea “ought implies can” (168). The 456 believe it is in the government’s best interest to fulfill their obligation (ought), which is nearly impossible for them to complete (can). The 456 continues on to explain the form the children are being used, as a drug. The psychological egotistic request leads to another scene where egoism plays a role. After deliberating how they will conform to the 456’s request, they come to the conclusion that they will use “unwanted,” “unloved,” and “unintelligent” children, almost all children but their own. Because of their decision to use all other children but their own, the people in the room can be undoubtedly labeled ethical egoists. The government officials are looking out for only themselves. It may seem like they are looking out for their children, but as stated in Glaucon’s theory of self-interest, “humans are by nature self-interested, and any show of concern for others...

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