Superman: Unselfish Morality

March 6, 2005

Paul Neu (

I think, in response as to whether Superman represents a level of morality that man could never achieve, we need to ask this question; If Superman could possess all his abilities, with the exception of immortality, would he still take the same risks? Suppose he had the same strength, but could be harmed by a bullet. Would he still make the same risks to save a person, even if it meant the he could be seriously injured or even die? Based on what we know about his character we could probably make the safe assumption that yes, he would in fact take the bullet.

Now, assuming we were in the same situation, how many of us would take a bullet for a total stranger? Most of us would feel it would be morally justifiable to give your life for another, but how many of us would actually do it? If it was a person we deeply cared for, most of us would probably do it without a second thought, but for a total stranger, most would probably not step in (with the possible exception of children). Self-preservation would stop us. Is that immoral? Most of us would say that it is not. Most of us would also say self-sacrifice is not immoral either. So which is greater? Who would be judged as having the greater morality? Most would say self-sacrifice because it has no selfish tendencies.

Taking all this into account, given Superman's unselfish behavior towards total strangers, it could be stated that Superman reaches a higher level of morality. Now does that make his level unattainable by others? No. History is full of examples of those who have given their lives for total strangers. 9-11 alone is example of firemen and police officers who were not thinking about a paycheck. What sets these people apart from the majority is what makes them heroes. Superman is a hero. He's not better than others; he is just a leading example of what we could be.