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Eds Pilot

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By stephhmann
Words 2430
Pages 10
Question 1. Do you think what the EDS pilot did to Marilyn was what he ought to have done? Can you justify your position? What principles might you use to do so? What does Jan Narveson think about cases like Marilyn’s? Why does he think as he does? How many changes, and to what extent, would be the very minimum that would have to be made in Godwin’s story “Cold Equations” before you would think that Marilyn ought to be spared by the EDS pilot? Stephanie Mann
Phil 1F90
Maya Snrdic

In the short story The Cold Equations, it depicts life’s real challenges, and how we must face them when in a decision of where we are obligated to figure out for ourselves what is right and wrong. Although this is a science-fictional story, it shows us how real life decisions are made, in which this case, the decision is threatening to one’s life. The choices made in this story are done through morality, utilitarianism, and assumption, clearly shown throughout the obstacles that are thrown at the main character and subject. In this short story, Marilyn made a choice, and clearly the last choice she could have made as a young 18 year old, to sneak onto a ship that was clearly marked “unauthorized personnel, keep out!” Little did she know was that her decision to sneak onto this ship would not be to pay a small fine, but would be to pay the price of her life. The EDS pilot now has to face decisions that he would rather not, since he is the one who has to choose who dies or not. He knows in his heart that Marilyn doesn’t deserve to die, since she foolishly put aside the sign that was made for her to obey, but he also knows that it’s the ships law to “any stowaway discovered in an EDS shall be jettisoned immediately following discovery” (pg. 252). This put the pilot to making a crucial decision to what he should do and what is right and wrong for him to do, since this time the stowaway wasn’t a guy, but it was Marilyn, the innocent 18 year old who didn’t know what this choice of her own would soon cost her. The pilot also had to think of what was the best to do, and whichever decision was best, how many people would or wouldn’t it save. If Marilyn were to stay on the EDS, she would die alone or with 7 other people. This was the facts and what the pilot had to think about. Was he to send away, into the eerie darkness of space, this blameless young girl and have him and all of those on board survive, or was he to keep going on schedule and have Marilyn, himself, and all other 6 passengers die? The pilot had much to think about, and knew that either choice he made would end in the drastic outcome of this girl dying, had she been wise enough to know to follow rules when put right in front of her. The last step for the pilot was to make a rational decision, and to have rational thoughts. From knowledge, he knew that there was hardly enough fuel given to even reach the destination they had on schedule when there was indeed the right amount of weight in the ship, and knew that this excess weight would slow them down, and not allow for the ship to reach destination, having them all fall to their death. He knew his job was to get to the planet of Woden, deliver this sacred cure for their diseases, and to carry on his way of what he had to do. With this given information and self-knowledge, the one and only decision was to have Marilyn be put into the darkness of space, even though the words ill fully slipping of Marilyn’s lips said “I didn’t do anything to die for- I didn’t do anything” Given all of these decisions, the EDS pilot’s choice was indeed what he had to do, and there was nothing he, nor anyone could do about it, whether or not he wanted all of them to live, or just himself and Marilyn in which this can be justified, given the examples of the situations. The Cold Equation has explained thorough explanations as to why what the pilot did was rational, and was what he ought to have done. From the start, Marilyn did not follow simple rules of keeping out of an unauthorized area into which she knew she shouldn’t be in, setting the tone into which this girl was irresponsible with her own decisions, whether or not she wanted to see her brother, it is explained that she could have, certainly, waited another year to see him, instead of risking her life to which she didn’t know she was doing. Her infamous line “I didn’t do anything to die for- I didn’t do anything” almost makes you want to feel sorry for her. But yes, she did do something; she ignored the rules of law, and tried to be above law, which caused her to be in a situation she could have avoided. Into the story, it is explained that “H amount of fuel will not power an EDS with a mass of m plus x safely to its destination” (pg. 263), in easier terms, having her on the ship would not allow them to reach to their landing, so having Marilyn on this ship would defy all odds of them even reaching the spot if they wanted to, so this was a key point that the pilot had to tell us, so we didn’t have an automatic thinking that he was evil. It was also noted, that this ship had a law that “any stowaway discovered in an EDS shall be jettisoned immediately following discovery” (pg. 252). Now, although Marilyn did not follow the rules, the pilot did and knew that he wasn’t above law, and he had to do what the law said, and this is what his job was all about. The pilot also tried extending Marilyn’s life by postponing his response to his commander, who also was not able to help her, and tried to allow her to live as much as she could because he sent her to her death. All of these dilemmas that the pilot had to face were not in any way his fault, and there was not one thing he could do to save Marilyn, so this was exactly what he had to do in his situation to Marilyn. Principles that I would have used into deciding of what was ought to be done is my own personal values. The expectations that I would have is what I would use to determine this outcome, being from was most important, beneficial, or useful. Marilyn, who had no importance to ship, or any importance to any outcome of what the main goal for the pilot was to do, would show me that that was the first negative point she had towards her. She was not beneficial in any way, as she was slowly killing them all and not allowing for the pilot to be on schedule and to do his job, striking off another negative. Although she was young, pretty, and innocent, she was not useful in anyway. They do say looks get you by in life, but her looks couldn’t make the ship bigger, couldn’t get them more fuel, and couldn’t save all of the ill people who were waiting for this cure. My conscience would guide me to believe that the decision to go through with was, to have Marilyn jettisoned and sent into the darkness, since she had no reason to crumble the already set plan. Jan Narveson has a very descriptive way, and a very intelligent way of allowing the reader to know what his thoughts about The Cold Equations were. Jan did not think that what was done was right, but she did know that what the pilot did was what he had to do, and there was no way out of it. Jan thought about the more optimistic side of the outcome, and had a lot of “what if’s” in his response. He explains how there was only two choices that could have been made. Choice one being that either only Marilyn dies and the rest stay alive, or choice two being that Marilyn dies, and so do the rest of them. The decision, that would be most obvious to others, would be the first decision, because no one else but Marilyn did anything wrong, so why should everyone have to die when only the wrong-doer has to die? Jan puts a new outlook on the story, and puts assumptions as to what would happen if this or this were to take place, but it is noted that we only think to one side of the story as a reader, and do not assume anything else of it. He explains of how we feel for Marilyn, and we know that she did something she wasn’t supposed to, but we don’t feel that she should die, even though that is the only choice she has. All in all, Jan thinks that cases like Marilyn are ones that we can think about, but can’t do anything about. We, as humans, have to also think rational, and think about if what was done was for the best, in which this case, it was not so much the best, but the only choice that could have been made, and we cannot assume of anything or if this was done, this could have happened. As Jan states, who can defy what choices are right or wrong? Who can be the one to make the assumption or judge that what was done, is what should have been done? It is assumed that God can be the only one to judge you, and from that, you yourself can assume that what you did was right. Jan thinks the way he does because of the certain guilt Marilyn played off as the pilot asked what she was doing. The quick “I didn’t do anything, I didn’t hurt anyone” allows the pilot to feel sorry for her, and to feel that truly, what she said was correct, but what she did wasn’t. The convenient “I only wanted to see my brother” allows us to shed somewhat of a tear, a tear that soon can be wiped away when we know that rules are rules, and no, she was not allowed on this ship. He says that we can think of two ways about the laws; that they are just and unjust. What Marilyn did was wrong, but was it that much of a wrong doing that she must be sent into space and become nothing but what floats up there. He thinks the way he does because he knows that choices A and B are what has to be thought about, and that choice A was the most respectable choice to be made, even though no one had the God-given right to live or not, but that was the pilot’s choice, and no one else’s. As stated, “Utilitarianism wins after all” (pg. 278), Marilyn was the minority in this case, and she had to deal with it and be killed, and accepted her fate. In The Cold Equations, there would be a bare minimum of changes that would have had to be made before I would think that Marilyn ought to be spared by the EDS pilot. For instance, if the “unauthorized personnel keep out” would have been more descriptive, or would have explained that death would occur if disobeying the sign, all of Marilyn’s and the pilot’s dilemmas would be non-existent, and would have saved an enormous amount of time and trouble that was caused. If there was enough fuel to get to the destination, and a little to spare, then it would be obvious that Marilyn would not have to be killed and would have been able to stay aboard so she and all of the others would be satisfied. Although this ship was quite unstable and was very poorly made, Marilyn could have stayed put in the supplies closet and not bothered the pilot to do his duty and his responsibilities. These two things are the only ways that Marilyn could have survived, the first being that a more life-threatening, and law-obeying sign could have been put up, and that the EDS could be filled with more fuel than given, as it only makes sense to be filled with an abundance of fuel as the fuel is what determines whether or not the delivery will be made. If there was enough fuel in the first place, the pilot would not have to of told his commander that there was a stowaway on the ship, commanding him to kill her because that was the law. He could have kept her a secret, and kept her hidden until they reached their destination to which she would then be hidden and secretly taken off the ship. These two reasons would be the only minimum ways possible, to allow the EDS pilot to spare Marilyn’s life and allow her to live, even though what she did was wrong. Through the choices that the pilot had to make, to the choices that Marilyn should not have made, there was a generous amount of confusion, decision making, morals, values, and thoughtfulness that was put into the decision that was made in the end. Yes, we know that what Marilyn did was not so severe as much as to killing her, but we also know that it was what had to be done, and was what ought to be done to this stowaway. In the end, the choices were what was best, and what was to be done, and no one was to blame but Marilyn. The rules and laws of the ship is what was set in place, and for Marilyn to try and defy those laws and be above them was wrong for her to do. The choice to send Marilyn away was the only choice that could be done, and to this is what I agree.

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