Now, lets say your brother comes to you today and says he knows your son is going to grow up to be another Hitler: he’s had a vision you see. So he’s brought a knife to cut his throat. How might you respond?
In the real world, where there has been no evidence that precognition is real, and that visions of the future are anything but delusions? I would do everything in my power to stop him.
But we’re talking about a fictional universe here where precognition is an established fact. A universe where prophecy carries weight.
Now, if I were a father within the context of a universe like that, and my brother came to me with that kind of claim? And assuming, for the analogy to be accurate, that my brother has an established record of precognitive ability? That he has had other visions in the past, which I know for a fact have come true?
And let’s also acknowledge that Luke’s vision was not his only reason for acting. Luke mentions in the film a pattern of troubling behavior on Ben’s part. He mentions that he had grown deeply concerned about Ben even before he had the vision.
So let’s factor that into analogy as well, and say that I’ve discovered all the missing cats in the neighborhood are buried in my backyard. That their remains all show evidence of being tortured to death.
- In a universe where precognition is an established fact,
- My brother has an established record of having prophetic visions,
- He comes to me and says my son will grow up to be a mass murderer in the future,
- That he intends to kill my son before that can happen,
- And I know my son has already demonstrated psychopathic behavior?
How would I respond in that situation?
I would almost certainly come to the same conclusion. Eventually.
I wouldn’t let my brother harm my son. Probably. But it wouldn’t be as easy of a decision as it would be in the real world. In a universe where precognition is established fact, there would be some hesitation on my part. I might entertain the idea, even for just half a second, of letting my brother go through with it.
Which is all that I’m arguing for when it comes to Luke.
Because Luke didn’t go through with killing Ben. If he had, that would have prevented everything, and Luke would have saved millions of lives.
I’m only arguing that it’s reasonable that Luke entertained the idea for half a second.
Luke saw enough goodness in his disturbed father to want to try to save him, during the height of war, as he was facing total imminent defeat and the death of his family and friends; I find it impossible to imagine years later during peacetime he would have a vision and then decide to go murder Leia’s son.
You find it impossible to imagine because you are choosing to ignore Luke’s own history with Force visions.
Whatever Yoda may have said — and I’ve already pointed out that Yoda had motivation to lie — experience has shown Luke that Force visions CAN be reliable.
But let’s discuss the ethics of the dilemma from another angle.
Let’s suppose that Luke DOES know for a fact that Force visions are unreliable.
Let’s pull a number out of thin air and suppose Luke only applies a 20% reliability rate to his visions of the future, and reframe the dilemma:
Would you kill an innocent child, if there was even a 20% chance that child might grow up to murder BILLIONS of people?
Would you consider it, even for the briefest moment?
Luke’s whole character arc is about him overcoming his temptation to the darkside. His arc was done.
I’m glad you framed it as temptation to the dark side.
Because I’m not convinced it’s that cut and dry.
The entire reason I bring up the Hitler dilemma is that it’s not obvious that killing Hitler is the immoral thing to do.
In other words — it’s not obvious that killing Ben is a move that would shift Luke to the dark side.
Luke did not consider striking Ben down out of anger, or out of fear of loss. If anything, it was attachment that stayed his hand.
Anakin had a vision, and acted out of a selfish desire to save one person he loved.
Luke had a vision, and acted out of a selfless desire to save billions of lives.
Above all else, Luke has always been a character who has strived to do the right thing.
That’s what motivated him to spare Vader’s life.
That’s also what motivated him to consider ending Ben’s.