im looking for a certain Psychological term for a term paper.

jamesarkle

New Member
english
hey,
im doing a paper for philosophy on utilitarianism and i need a term that has to do with someone who can do something completely immoral in order to acheive an overall good. like in that movie 'swordfish' where john travolta said that he could kill one inocent child to save alot more people. i know there's a term for someone who is unbalanced like this but i really can't remeber it.

thanks
 
  • Well, I would give some suggestions to choose from. I hope that at least one will work:

    1) History knows a lot of people who committed awful crimes in order to achieve some particular goal. These goals may be different, in fact, however, very often they are reduce to conquests and invasions. For instance, William the Conqueror killed a lot of people in order to submit England. He was called brutal (very cruel), ruthless, pitiless, merciless, relentless (these words mean almost the same). I would also the words hard-hearted and heartless.

    Although my example does not exactly correspond to yours (you are writing about one murder but not thousands of them) I think that the qualities listed above are inherent to a person who can kill a child no matter what he does it for
     
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    Well, I think it depends on what you want to emphasize in his behaviour, in the deed he has performed (child's murder).

    Provided that you want to show how cruel he may be (without paying attention to the purpose he intends to fulfil such as saving people, trying to avoid the spread of pestilence by killing people who have been already infected etc.) you may use the adjectives which I suggested in the very first message.

    Otherwise, what is bad about him? He looks forward to rescueing a huge number of people. He should be proclaimed a hero in this case (But I insist on the first interpretation)
     

    AngelEyes

    Senior Member
    English - United States
    I'm not absolutely sure I like this, but what do you think of:

    A twisted savior complex.

    He believes his destiny to save the world is worth the life of one innocent child. He sees his decision to kill someone, no matter who it is, as his right and duty for the greater good.

    His savior mentality is twisted into something evil and self-serving for his purposes.

    Maybe not. I'm no psychologist...

    AngelEyes
     

    Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    I'm doing a paper for philosophy on utilitarianism and i need a term that has to do with someone who can do something completely immoral in order to acheive an overall good. like in that movie 'swordfish' where john travolta said that he could kill one inocent child to save alot more people. i know there's a term for someone who is unbalanced like this but i really can't remeber it.
    Are you really talking about someone who is mentally ill? It sounds like you're actually talking about Consequentialism or some other philosophical idea about the ends justifying the means. People are capable of doing dreadful things without being unbalanced.
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    It seems to me that someone who feels the sacrifice of one life to benefit the many is not a psychopath, since the ultimate good implies some sort of sense of good/evil.

    Macchiavellian, perhaps? Since it does seem to be a case of "the ends justify the means"...
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Well, it seems to me that the appropriate philosophical term is, erm, ... utilitarian.

    I don't know of any equivalent psychological term.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In addition to the above suggestions, megalomaniac could describe a person who considered himself above the constraints of ordinary morality and might think he had the right to make such a choice. The same might be true of someone who had a messianic complex.

    (I believe that a psychopath is free of a sense of right and wrong, so would be unlikely to be doing anything "to save everybody else". However, I may be wrong.
    NOTE: I see that KHS has already made this point in post #8.)
     
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