After over 100 episodes, I finally found an excuse to combine two of my favorite things in the world into one: the cartoon series Steven Universe and John Stuart Mill’s utilitarian ethics. That it took so long to do so is more of a testament to the high quality of the show than anything else. The sheer expanse of the show and the topics it deals with – from basic lessons about friendship to in-depth explorations of grief, loss, and trauma in the aftermath of relationships and war – kind of makes it a bit intimidating to get a grasp on it. What finally inspired this long-awaited excuse to stuff utilitarianism into yet more cartoons (see my long, long list of utilitarian ethics inspired analysis of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) was the two-parter episodes of Beta and Earthlings, the 100 and 101the episodes according to the Steven Universe wiki.
In Part I of this two part exploration of Discord’s reformation, I drew upon utilitarian philosopher Henry Sidgwick to argue that Discord’s reformation could be viewed as a story of the conflict between egoism and utilitarian ethics. Sidgwick argued that this conflict was logically irreconcilable as the decision to be one or the other came own to one decision: the willingness to put your own interests aside for the greater good.
In Part II of this exploration I will analyze Discord’s reformation through the lens of Sidgiwck’s view of the role of sympathy and the duty of benevolence in the utilitarian ethic. In doing so, I argue that Discord’s story can serve as an example of how one can transition away from the egoistic philosophy. In doing so, I can also explain why Fluttershy was the best choice of pony to reform Discord despite my arguments that Pinkie Pie is already a utilitarian of sorts. Continue reading
In this first part of a two-part exploration of Discord’s reformation, we’ll explore Discord’s egoism in the context of utilitarian philosopher Henry Sidgwick’s dilemma of the irreconcilability of egoism and utilitarian ethics. This sets the the stage for the exploration of Discord’s reformation in part two.
Everyone knows that Fluttershy loves animals taking care of them is her special talent after all. But does the episode Bats! suggests that she might have a lot in common with preference utilitarian Peter Singer? In this article I will attempt to argue that, like Peter Singer, Fluttershy is acting on the belief that animals deserve equal moral consideration when decisions have to be made.
I’ve decided to come back to the topic of Pinkie Pie and Utilitarianism by discussing an episode that showed Pinkie acting in a manner that is problematic: “Luna Eclipsed”. Her behavior is discussed using the concepts of Impartiality, Egalitarianism, and the Hedonistic Calculus.
Before going further, I might recommend watching this video to get some basic understanding of some concepts I’ll be talking about in the rest of the video:
Is Pinkie Pie an Ethical Hedonist?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-RtJEaWD7A
A collaborative video I did with Nightsphere the Gnostic about whether or not Discord was chaotic and, if not, what ethical systems does he follow?
Finally, a video version that discusses what has been my most popular topic: Is Pinkie Pie an Ethical Hedonist?