The Weight of the World

In Mark D. White (ed.), Superman and Philosophy. Wiley. pp. 157–167 (2013-03-11)
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Abstract

Ethics is demanding by nature, telling us what we should or should not do. But one ethical theory in particular, utilitarianism, is more demanding than most, and is often criticized as requiring too much of us. Neither utilitarianism nor deontology requires Superman to care about truth, justice, or the American way. It might not be possible for Superman to be supererogatory since very little is above or beyond the call of duty for him, given our incredibly high expectations. Virtue ethics has the best chance to explain how Superman can perform supererogatory acts, since it doesn't focus on good action as such, but rather good character. While people use the name “big blue boy scout” in a derogatory way with Superman, it is a nice way to capture an ethical theory that might grant Superman’s responsibilities while allowing him a chance to live his own life: virtue ethics.

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Audrey Anton
Western Kentucky University

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