ad hoc argument, Bioshock 2, calvin and hobbes, dragonball z, Ghaleon, Harry Potter, Hellsing, logical fallacy, Lunar: Silver Star Story, morality, objectivism, Resident Evil: Code Veronica, Spider-Man, Star Wars, subjectivism, trope, tropes, Venom, Voldemort
CALVIN: I don’t believe in ethics anymore. As far as I’m concerned, the ends justify the means. Get what you can while the getting’s good – that’s what I say! Might makes right! The winners write the history books! It’s a dog-eat-dog world, so I’ll do whatever I have to, and let others argue about whether it’s “right” or not.
(Hobbes pushes Calvin out of the way into a mud puddle.)
CALVIN: HEY! Why’d you do that?!
HOBBES: You were in my way. Now you’re not. The ends justify the means.
CALVIN: I didn’t mean for everyone, you dolt! Just me!
“Calvin Morality” is a form of morality seen in fiction (and real life, actually) that is a paradox or fallacy. Essentially, it is a form of Ad Hoc Morality, although this is usually a specific case of an individual. As the above example illustrates, the idea behind Calvin Morality is as follows:
“I am the sole agent of objective moral truth, but it is only objective with regards to all other individuals save myself insofar as I can never be morally wrong.”
It is applied essentially as above, hence the name “Calvin Morality”. On the surface, it looks as if Calvin is simply endorsing Subjectivism. In truth, as made clear by his last statement, what he’s really doing is promoting Objectivism on everyone except himself, which isn’t really Objectivism.
Calvin Morality is often a paradox in fiction involving morals that, when thought about, is as ridiculous as the above example even if it doesn’t also appear so obviously and/or humorously. Essentially a character applies an objective moral truth of their own deisgn, often rigid and dogmatic, to everyone except themselves.
In “Harry Potter”, Voldemort is the clearest example of this. He fosters, promotes, and encourages such universal hatred of all non-pure-blooded wizards and witches that he’s fairly Hitleresque, ultimately believing the “final solution” is genocide or control of all non-pure-blood races and thinking of them as “inferior races”. All this in spite of the fact that he’s not only not pure-blooded himself, but he’s actually less pure blooded than his opponent, Harry Potter, and even insults him on those grounds.
In “Spider-Man”, Eddie Brock is another huge example. He believes that Spider-Man unequivocally and undeniably deserves to die because he “ruined the life of an innocent”…namely by inadvertantly getting Brock fired for a fake news story by stopping a serial killer from killing more innocent people. Not only is that flimsy at best, Brock rationalizes that all of the innocents he kills whenever the police get on his trail or he escapes from prison are all “perfectly justified” so long as he manages to get free to continue to hunt down Spider-Man.
In “Lunar: Silver Star Story”, Ghaleon believes himself to be on a quest to establish a “good and powerful goddess” to ensure peace and punish and eliminate evil in the world, believing the world is corrupt and filthy as a result of immorality and selfishness, and yet he pretty much engages in every horrendous crime imaginable, including, but limited to, deception, treachery, treason, betrayal, attempted murder, brainwashing, profaning his own religious faith and order, sadism, mass genocide, destruction, hurting of innocents, and all to create a goddess who would have ultimately been nothing more than a doll who danced to his tune. In one translation, when his hypocrisy is blatantly pointed out and that literally no one on Lunar wants the world he’s offering, his only response is that everyone is dumber than him.
Pretty much every religious terrorist/fanatic in both fiction and real life. They condemn other people for engaging either in overt sins or minor acts of immorality, perceived or otherwise, yet consider themselves blameless if they kill scores of innocents so long as they died so that the terrorist/fanatic could kill a few “infidels” who are rather “low-ranking” on the totem pole of their aggression. In some cases, they even think they’re morally superior for committing sin.
In the “Star Wars” series, Darth Vader is sort-of this. In his case, he’s not justifying himself as he’s justifying Emperor Palpatine. He supposedly joined the Dark Side and carried out the execution of the Jedi under the idea that he believed the Jedi would take over and eliminate all senators to install an autocratic rule, yet he’s perfectly fine with Emperor Palpatine doing the exact same thing.
In “Hellsing”, Alucard is sort-of this in that he believes unworthy or unsophisticated vampires deserve to be destroyed, but he himself is the only vampire he sees worthy of life.
In “Dragonball”, Vegeta constantly slams other warriors that he sees are without honor or pride, considering that worse than death in many cases. Yet in his first fight with Goku, he essentially “cheated” by creating a ki ball to simulate moonlight so that he could transform rather than try and outlast Goku normally. Before that, he purposely aimed at Earth with his largest attack to force Goku to “take the hit” rather than risk missing him.
In “Bioshock 2”, Sophia Lamb launches a Rapture-wide campaign on the idea of the need for morality, kindness, and altruism and criticizes pretty much every policy Andrew Ryan adopts, yet ultimately performs each one of them herself in the name of creating the “perfect society”, including eliminating free will which would ultimately make everyone more a “cog in a machine” than any business leader could.
In “Resident Evil: Code Veronica”, Alexia Ashford literally sees all other human beings as “worker ants” and herself as their queen. She believes their only purpose is to live and die for her and to be destroyed and replaced if they fail. She extended that argument to her father on the grounds he was a failure for botching the attempt to revive Veronica, an attempt that ended up creating her and her inferior twin Alfred, and therefore deserved to be used as a guinea pig for her research. However, the fact that the result ended up creating the failed T-Veronica monster Nosferatu shows that Alexia herself was a failure and therefore should have been liable to the same inferior status, yet she wrote the whole thing off as a learning experience.