Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Society vs The Individual

This is a big question in my mind lately. What is more important the society that a person resides in or the individual. Today in our ethics class we discussed a fictitious vignette about a study on cancer. The researchers were studying a hypothetical drug that was curing some kids but others were getting sicker and dying. All of the kids were terminally ill. The question is do we stop research because of the few terminally ill children that are dying sooner than expected even though the drug is beneficial and saving others. This is the whole idea of what is more important society or the individual.

When we are creating our characters we need to understand their viewpoint on this. We need to know what they would do in certain ethical dilemmas. Would they stop the study because of the harm being done to the few or would they continue because the benefit outweighs the cost of the few. This can greatly influence how they react in certain situations. Will they forget the world because their family is in dire trouble or will they say it is more important to save the world. We see this all the time in the different shows that we watch.

I suggest to truly get to know our main characters we should put them in hypothetical situations where they need to make ethical decisions. Make sure that they are not easy dilemmas to solve but that they make you really evaluate the values of your character.

What ethical dilemmas do you find your characters in?


  1. huh this is an interesting exercise...and would def help you work out your character and make sure they were ethically consistent as well...i think the good of the few vs the good of the many is a great one...and one most heroes and heroines will face at some point...and is never really answered, mostly they figure out a way to save them all...

  2. I think what you present here is a also a great way to distinguish between your protagonist and antagonist. It is this type of situation where both parties are correct but with how you put the spin on it determines which one is "good." I hope I never have to be put into the situation to decide which is better but I like the idea of thinking through how my characters would decide.

  3. I know what I would do, but it's all in theory...if it was actually placed in front of me, I don't know! But I agree with Yvonne, everyone has a right to a life! (good luck on your surgery)

  4. I remember this! Greatest good for the greatest number...utilitarianism! My character is in this EXACT situation. She works for a company that does more good than harm (supposedly) but she finds that one person that is NOT affected fact this client she meets is harmed by this company's role in his life. So, she decides that this one person is worth the risk. Even though she realizes that maybe some people are benefiting from this company's existence. To me, ad to my character, each life matters.


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