Saga Inconsistent Morality In Star Wars

Discussion in 'Star Wars Saga In-Depth' started by Narutakikun, Jul 25, 2013.

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  1. Narutakikun Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2012
    star 4
    How exactly do you do that if you can't "judge" people or actions? How do you know which people you can or can't kill, based on what actions they may be engaged in? How do you know which person should be defended from whom? How do you determine whether blowing up Alderaan is good and blowing up the Death Star is bad, or whether blowing up Alderaan is bad and blowing up the Death Star is good?

    That doesn't relieve you of the need to define the terms you use.

    One word: Krell.

    Again, the movie never, ever made the case that Order 66 was karmic retribution for the Jedi turning to a slave army. If so, Order 66 would have been a joyous moment instead of a tragedy.

    No, sorry, we're back to definitions again. "Functional"? Distinguo.

    It seems you have a very specific, very narrow definition of what a "democracy" is, at least in the sense of a sort of government you'd find suitable. You either have to be much more specific about what you're referring to (again, sloppy and/or imprecise definitions at work), or I'm going to have to call NTS on you.

    Sure, but those aren't the only two possible choices in the universe. Plato criticized democracy and tyranny equally in The Republic.

    That he could? Maybe. That the trained ship crew and the functioning Astromech droid he had at his disposal could? Well...

    Again, there's nothing in the film that suggests that installation is a problem. If you're asserting that it is, I'll need you to present some evidence for your assertion. The burden of proof is not on me to disprove baseless assertions.
    Last edited by Narutakikun, Jul 26, 2013
  2. PiettsHat Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 1, 2011
    star 4
    Who says you can't judge actions? I'm saying that there's a danger to deciding that one is righteous and that another is evil and that because you believe this dynamic exists, you as the "good" person have the "right" to kill an "evil" person. It's a crusader mentality and it's dangerous. Whether or not you kill, then, has to be entirely dependent on saving lives -- not deciding who is good or who is evil, but what will help the most people. The Death Star, for example, is a weapon -- a weapon that has already been used to kill billions of people and is about to wipe out the Rebellion. Alderaan was innocuously sitting in space. Taking out the Death Star doesn't require you to believe that everyone on board is evil. The action should be undertaken by a Jedi as a means to protect others -- not to punish those on board for their crimes or sentence them to death for being "evil." That's what I've always taken from the films.

    I'm using simple language to explain a simple point. There's no need to devolve into pedantic qualms about language. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's your right, but I think I've been very clear about what I believe.

    Who? I've only seen the films.

    Good thing I never said it was karmic retribution then. The Jedi made a tragic mistake in compromising their ideals and they paid for it with their lives. It's tragic because the Jedi were trying to do the right thing but had lost their way and become something they were never intended to be (a military force leading a clone army) and this, ultimately, led them down a path that caused their destruction.

    What? You've heard of checks and balances, right?

    Errr...I'm basing my opinion off what is presented in the films. Since we are talking about Obi-Wan's perspective, are we not? And what is NTS? "Note to self"?

    And Plato is relevant how? We're talking about Anakin and Obi-Wan are we not? How the system Obi-Wan is fighting for -- flawed as it is -- is still ultimately a better source of compromise than Anakin's tyrannical Empire.

    Sorry...but you're the one who is stating it is an issue. You need to demonstrate why it is an issue. Where in the films is it ever indicated that Qui-Gon could successfully steal and install the hyperdrive but refuses to do so based on his sense of morality? There's absolutely no basis for this.

    And even if Qui-Gon could install it (which isn't certain since he didn't exactly have time on Naboo to make sure that an engineer was part of the crew), there could certainly be other issues to overcome as well -- security systems, access codes that would be required to integrate the hyperdrive into the ship, etc. It's not as simple as fixing a bike. This ship is designed for interstellar travel and the hyperdrive is a critical component.
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  3. Lt.Cmdr.Thrawn The Other Saga Moderator

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    Not related to anything else, but they did install the hyperdrive somehow in the actual film, and I don't think Watto helped. It looked like Obi-Wan was doing it.
  4. only one kenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 3
    The courts are separated from Government so that Government cannot use the courts to act against the people. That is the principle. Laws are made through the democratic system, and precedent checks unusual alterations. Juries further back the principle of lay involvement. A clearly defined legal system is one of the essentials of a democracy. I think you argue against it being 'democratic' because it rather spoils the dichotomous nature of your position. By which I mean you seem to understand the principle of democracy as being undermined by a simple dichotomy of 'wants', when in fact most of the time people can agree to rights for others that they don't particularly want, or see a need for, themselves.

    Not really. The first part is what is relevant to what you said. You seemed to suggest that democracy comes down simply to a vote (likely where there are two options, one that you CAN accept and one that you CAN'T - dichotomous), whereas the democratic principle relies upon discussion and compromise (non dichotomous).

    My second point was simply with regards to how many of us step out of the democratic process and then complain when our 'representatives' don't deliver. If you don't take part in the process (and I don't mean sticking a cross on a piece of paper) then you've simply not engaged. You have a voice; use it.

    Here is the true 'no true Scotsman' argument. Decry the courts as a-priori non democratic (despite a well established legal system and procedural law being the backbone of rights in a democracy....!?) and then state that it can't work - again based upon a simple dichotomous argument of having to win or lose a vote (with no concept of discussion and compromise).
    Last edited by only one kenobi, Jul 27, 2013
  5. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    star 4
  6. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4

    I disagree. Order 66 could have been karmic retribution for the Jedi's use of the clone army . . . and at the same time, be a tragedy.
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  7. The Supreme Chancellor Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 4, 2012
    star 4
    Luke didn't know about the Emperors powers. In his eyes he would have been striking down an unarmed old man. Regardless of the power he wielded at that moment he was not directly threatening Luke.
  8. DRush76 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jan 25, 2008
    star 4
    Also, Luke was in a state of anger after Palpatine revealed that he had deliberately set a trap for the Rebels, by luring them to Endor and the Death Star.
  9. Darth Xalfrea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2013
    star 3
    Personally, at least looking at it from the movies POV, I don't think much of morality in them.

    Why? Because the movies don't, if ever, delve into it too much. Think about it. Robot Slaves in a futuristic world where they can think. An Empire that SAYS they are evil completely with no shades of gray. A resistance that also has no shades of gray. A religious order of knights templar that see it as their duty to police a galaxy. Millions upon millions of clone soldiers.

    If we take the EU into consideration, some stories present those ideas further, but the movies don't do it at all because that's not their focus. For Episodes IV-VI, it's the rise of a young champion and his band of friends to lead a resistance to top an evil empire. For I-III, it's the fall of a young champion and his band of friends in the backdrop to the death of democracy and the creation of an evil empire. Philosophical arguments about morality and other brain-wracking discussions are not at the forefront of story-telling.

    It's not that I don't disregard it completely. I just want to point out that if there are any inconsistencies in morality of Star Wars, it's because the morality was barely there to begin with.
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  10. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    ^^^
    Good call.

    The only issue I think that niggles is the role of the clones in a universe in which slavery is condemned & outlawed by the 'good guys' - the same good guys who bought the clone army. However, I think it's more an oversight on GL's part and doesn't bear too much close investigation.
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  11. Darth Xalfrea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2013
    star 3
    Hmm...I missed that part for sure.

    But yeah, again, it's something that is not delved into because George had no intention of delving into it. His brief line about slavery was only meant to showcase how crappy it is to live on Tatooine.

    Star Wars is many things, but a philosophical discussion (at least for the movies) it is not.
  12. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    By that measure, Luke should have turned to the Dark Side when he destroyed Jabba's sail barge. All those shrieking alien spectators were no threat to him, and yet the Jedi Knight burned all of them.
  13. Darth_Nub Saga, Classic Trilogy and Film Music Manager

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    There are certainly philosophical or ethical issues put forward, but not to the extent that many take them. By the same token, it's certainly up for debate just where the line needs to be drawn between the fantasy universe of the GFFA & our own real world, and it's a line that refuses to stand still. GL himself has confirmed many times over the years that he was influenced in his earliest writing of SW by the Vietnam conflict and Richard Nixon's shenanigans, but there's still not all that much to the fact that Obi-Wan Kenobi was perfectly happy to dismember a drunken alien in a bar fight.
  14. Loupgarou Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2010
    star 3
    Any act out of hate is consistently a path to the dark side in Star Wars, and Luke attacking Palpatine would have been out of hate. Vader acts out of love when he throws Palpatine down the shaft, since he does it as the only way to save his son. It's the intent and context that matter.
    I won't get too into the Prequel issues since i'm more a fan of prequel era EU than the prequels themselves. That said i think the Clone Army is intentionally hypocritical, and that, at least when interpreted outside the films, the Jedi Order is intentionally portrayed as having gone astray due to too much reliance on old sayings and too much influence in galactic affairs.

    Overall, i think Star Wars has a pretty simple but consistent view of morality: The right way is rarely the easy way, but when you turn to cruelty and hatred, you will lose sight of your goals. You cannot control evil, only become an agent of it. Forgive and be merciful, but defend innocents and those you love.
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  15. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    So basically Yoda or Obi-Wan should have just given Luke a stress ball.

    "Listen, son. If the Emperor starts cackling and yammering on about hate and anger, just squeeze this twenty or so times. And when your mind's at ease, skewer him."
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  16. Darth_Pevra Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2008
    star 5
    More or less. Why does everyone think of the force as a morality gauge?
  17. Darth Xalfrea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2013
    star 3
    Because the movies like to hammer in that Light=Good and Dark=Bad. As George constantly brings up in documentaries, Star Wars is the ultimate battle between good and evil with no opportunity to try and see the middle.

    I hope we'll see some sense of morality discussions come Episodes VII-IX.
  18. Darth_Pevra Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2008
    star 5
    I don't think the Jedi are the ultimate judges for what is good or bad. The Jedi should tell you to trust your feelings, but what if your feelings (of anger for instance) lead you to the dark side, to do horrible things?
  19. only one kenobi Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 18, 2012
    star 3
    What's the alternative? Just act however you feel at the moment? Just assume your actions are 'righteous', no matter how angry you are; no matter how full of hate? If you are acting in anger, with hatred then how can you be sure that your actions have any real justification?

    I really don't see what the confusion with that particular concept is.

    As for 'inconsistent morality'...I see it as shifting moralities. The stories are, essentially, morality tales but...because of the story (and the focus of the story) has altered through the movies then there are disjoints. I think there are clear omissions in terms of what seem to be clear moral issues (the clone army and slavery, for example) - and I think they are omissions; aspects that have been overlooked by the writer(s).

    What some seem to be talking about is a lack of moral ambiguity - there being a simplistic good/bad dichotomy, while others see inconsistency (which, surely, is quintessentially ambiguous). What is consistent throughout is that the darkside does not lead to good outcomes. Giving in to hatred, anger, fear just leads to suffering. Simple, perhaps, but some of the greatest truths are just so. For example, whether we understand what gravity is, what we do know is that if you jump off something very high the result is not likely to be positive.
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  20. Darth Xalfrea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2013
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    Given what we know of the Jedi in the EU...ha!

    And again, this stems from the fact that Star Wars is particularly one-sided with what is good and what is bad.
  21. Darth_Pevra Chosen One

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2008
    star 5
    That much is true.

    However what I like about SW is that even the hero can go really bad or the complete monster can redeem itself. That is really rare. Usually only those who haven't been so bad in the first place get their redemption arc, and heroes never go all the way downhill into killing children territory.
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  22. drg4 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2005
    star 4
    The justification is fairly evident when your opponent is setting fire to half the galaxy. What Lucas advocates is not only absurdly sentimental (negative feelings turns one into a big meanie) but hypocritical (no Dark Side conversion for the needless incineration of the spectators on Jabba's sail barge?).
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  23. Narutakikun Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 8, 2012
    star 4
    But this leads to a very odd moral place. Isn't it right, good, and just to hate evil and injustice? Why does Luke hate Palpatine? Just because Luke doesn't like his face? Or are there justifiable reasons - stuff like him committing torture and genocide? If you don't hate that - if it doesn't make you angry - isn't there something wrong with you?

    We know that Jedi are not universally forbidden to love - they are encouraged to feel some forms of love (what the Greeks called agape), but not others (what the Greeks called eros). Some forms of love are appropriate for them to feel, and help them do what they need to do, while others are inappropriate and unhelpful. Similarly, anyone who has to do the job that the Jedi have to do cannot be universally forbidden to hate. They must hate evil and injustice; they must be filled with righteous indignation over it; otherwise why bother getting out of the comfy bean-bag chairs at the Temple to go do something about it? Of what use is a guardian of justice who is not outraged by injustice? What will provide him with his motivation to fight against it?

    If you want to battle evil with something that has no emotional attachments and works purely by logic, send droids. There's a reason the Jedi don't do that.

    Yup.

    In the end, you train people as best you can, you instruct them in morals and ethics as best you can, and then you just have to trust them to go out and do their job as best they can. If you didn't trust them to do that, you should never have put a lightsaber in their hand.

    Does it? How? And is some suffering justified? Who shed a tear for the Imperials blown to atoms on the Death Star? Did they not have hopes, dreams, cherished memories, and thoughts of tomorrow? Did they not have wives and children waiting for them back on Coruscant or Onderon or Serenno? Who shed a tear for Jabba or Boba or Bib Fortuna?

    How do you do both of those things with no compromises? Here we run into the Batman/Joker problem. The Joker has proven again and again that he cannot be reformed and that no prison can hold him; and when he makes one of his frequent escapes, he invariably kills somewhere between a handful and a few hundred innocent people. At what point, then, do the deaths of those innocent people actually become Batman's fault for refusing to just drop the hammer on the Joker once and for all? At what point do Bruce Wayne's personal issues with not killing actually start being bad for his city; start costing the lives of the people he says he's there to help? At what point does, as the old Calvinist saying goes, mercy to the wolf become cruelty to the sheep?

    Same with the Jedi. What is Luke supposed to do - let a tyrannical mass-murderer go because his head just isn't in the right place to do what needs to be done to stop the guy from blowing up some more planets? Because doing so might impede Luke's spiritual growth? Self-indulgent, navel-gazing, narcissistic nonsense. Just ram the guy through the heart with your laser sword and get it over with. Then deal with it however you need to. That's how war works - you do what needs to be done, and then you go pray, or drink, or do whatever you need to do to get on with your life.

    If the Jedi couldn't find a way to do that, then the galaxy is better off without them.
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  24. Darth Xalfrea Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 2, 2013
    star 3
    If the Jedi believe is such absolutes (I know, a Jedi talking in absolutes, what shock), then what about the Sith and morality?
  25. Loupgarou Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 19, 2010
    star 3
    Look, you may disagree with it, and on a few points i agree with you, but the morality isn't inconsistent. Hate is always a bad thing in star wars, no matter how justified. There is some muddiness due to the whole wartime factor but what is shown to be good and what is shown to be bad is never contradictory (at least in the OT and mostly in the prequels , there are issues in the EU). Batman is a completely separate issue;he's a guardian, not an executioner or a killer at all. He's not fighting a war, he's protecting a city. He doesn't believe he has the right to take life, and he leaves the fates of his enemies to the justice system. He doesn't want to become a tyrant, one man forcing a city to bend to his strength. And so he works with what he knows is a broken system, trying to fix it peacefully as Wayne, while defending the forgotten and scorned as Batman. Remember, it's the media circus and corrupt cops and greedy politicians that keep the Joker in an easily escapable asylum, Batman doesn't decide what happens to the Joker after he's caught. It's not his right, and i respect that. I've always found it disheartening how everyone complains about Batman's restraint, when i don't think he'd be a hero at all without it.
    Sorry for getting off-topic there. My last point is that you seem to think of Jedi as Soldiers, when they aren't. They're spiritual students who believe in intervening in violent matters, only to stop said matter. The Jedi fell largely because the council forgot this. If you don't think it intentional, perhaps the prequels are a bit inconsistent in the way the Jedi act as generals. But i think it's supposed to be against their teachings, and regardless the OT maintains the non-soldier definition.
    Last edited by Loupgarou, Aug 1, 2013
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