Walking Ahead into the Darkness: "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas - Ursula K. Le Guin

“There's a point, around the age of twenty, when you have to choose whether to be like everybody else the rest of your life, or to make a virtue of your peculiarities.”


In “The Dispossessed” by Ursula K. Le Guin.


Thank you, Ursula k. Le Guin, for encouraging me to celebrate my peculiarities. The short story about 'Omelas' is as insightful a demolition of utilitarianism I've read. Well, I didn't mean refutation, I meant demolish the underlying rationale. If we're all OK with someone perfectly innocent being lumped with all misery so we can be happy, then it's for the greater good, no? If we're not happy with that trade, and I doubt any society that isn't made of psychos would be, then for the utilitarianism is obviously undesirable as second order moral justification.


Utilitarianism is supposed to be a way to be good, by maximizing happiness. But if maximizing happiness above all else leads to evil, then it's a bit of a non-starter. If you bring in rules and regulations to stop leading to an Omelas type scenario, then these are meta rules that aren't justified by utilitarianism, and so you're leaning on something else, or shorter, you've stopped justifying your acts by utilitarianism and at best it's become are process within the framework. In real life, we can't know what maximizes happiness, and so it's all a bit philosopher’s armchair.


If you're into SF, read on.