Spock is wrong: The needs of the many do not outweigh the needs of the few

By howardroark | Freedom From Violence | 22 Oct 2020

In The Wrath of Khan (1982), Spock says, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.”. Of course, Spock himself violates this edict in some circumstances.  He is half human after all.

This Vulcan propaganda is from the same folks that give you "For The Greater Good" and "For the Children". It comes from the same place as Socialism, Fascism, and other collectivist schools of thought. In Star Trek terms, it seems Spock would be welcome on a borg cube.  It's a message statists love because it teaches you to sacrifice for others. You are not as important as the whole. You are less than.

Now it is easy to show in the Star Trek Universe that the concept isn't actually applied(which is good because I love Star Trek). There are constant examples of Spock himself, or Kirk putting the entire crew in danger to save a friend, or small group. Even in the situation the quote comes, it doesn't even apply.  Spock is certainly the hero here, saving the entire crew. However, he doesn't actually sacrifice himself. He would have died along with the crew regardless. You could even say this was a selfish act. He didn't want his friends to die, when he could do something about it.  Logically speaking, if you are going to die anyway, no need for the rest to die.  He valued his friends. Spock, literally, put his values ahead of anything else. He put his "needs"  to the forefront.

The literal meaning of this quote and it's true implications is a problem outside of the Star Trek Universe. It's a superficial statement that sounds good. However,  The majority doesn't get to be the default for which needs are important. Spock really never goes into any detail about the logic of this statement. Never demonstrates, in anyway, how he came to this conclusion.   Spock's mom tells him in "The Voyage Home"


Amanda: Spock, would you say that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?
Spock: Of course. I would consider such a statement an axiom.
Amanda: Then you stand here, alive, because of a mistake. Made by your flawed, human friends who believed the needs of the one—you—was more important to them.
Spock: ...humans make illogical decisions.
Amanda: [fond smile] They do indeed.


   The needs of the individual, or individuals who volunteer, are always the most important. I'd ask Spock: How do you weigh needs exactly?



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Howard Roark is a fictional character from "The FountainHead" by author Ayn Rand. He has come to life to share his infinite wisdom with the world.

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