I Thought I was Team Captain America, but I’m Team Tony Stark


In this blog we’re going to be talking about the morals and ethics of Captain America vs. Tony Start, and I’ll be discussing how I discovered more about myself in the process of learning about where these two stand, but I’ll start off with a topic that needs to be addressed. Something that’s really been bugging me lately is how people keep talking about what’s “morally right” or “ethical” as though these things have a set of guidelines. While there are some things we can say are absolutely wrong (murder, physical and sexual abuse, etc), morals and ethics are purely subjective. People have different moral compasses, and we’re in a world where people don’t respect that about one another.


Some examples include sex work, vegetarianism/veganism, monogamy.  To the Christian, sex work is sinful, but for the sex worker it’s not. Vegans and vegetarians may believe meat eaters are ethically bankrupt. We live in a time where open relationships and polyamory are becoming more popular, and someone who believes in monogamy may believe those in open relationships have no morals.


As you can see, it’s a little silly to see things so black and white. Where do I stand on these subjects? Do your thang, boo.


I was Team Captain America at First


When the Civil War movie came out, I was totally team Captain America. I’ve always loved Captain America, and I honestly loved The First Avenger. There’s always been something about Steve Rogers in the MCU where the guy just fights for what is right. He stands by this no matter what. So, when I had to choose between Cap and Iron Man, I was all about Team Cap.


The first thing I have to reflect on is the bias I had going into the movie. I think it’s important for us to look at this in any given situation. We’re all bias to one extent or another, but why. If you think about it, my bias for Captain America was ridiculous based on my reasoning. The primary reason I was more Team Cap, if I’m being honest, was because I liked the Captain America movies better than the Iron Man movies.


Is that any way to choose a side when I’m wondering who’s morals and ethics I take the side of?


What are Captain America’s Morals and Ethics?


As I explain the philosophy of both these characters, I want you to ask yourself which you personally agree with. And remember, there’s no right answer. It’s purely based on your own moral compass.


Captain America subscribes to a moral philosophy of deontology, which is he abides by the nature of duty and obligation. He always fights for what’s right and lives by the idea of what’s right is right. That’s one of the things I absolutely loved about him. He’d firmly plant his foot in the ground with conviction and say, “I believe this is what’s right, and I am not wavering on this belief.”


My opinion is that deontology leaves too much room for interpretation, is less fact based and doesn’t put you in a position to grow based on new information. The first flaw in deontology is what is “right”?


When looking at any situation, like the examples of sex work, vegetarianism/veganism, and monogamy at the beginning of this blog, who decides what’s right? The reality is that people are always doing what they think is right, and it’s typically based off of someone’s own life experiences. So, that in and of itself causes a lot of conflicts with others. Someone raised in a certain type of religion, for example, is going to have a much more conservative view on subjects based on what they believe is “right”.


The other flaw I find with deontology is that it’s not realistic. In order to subscribe to this way of thinking, one would have to not be willing to change based on new information. I’m a believer that people should constantly be consuming new information and learning from experiences. Things that many of us once believed was “right”, may not be right today. For example, think about how we thought it was okay to eat chocolate cake for breakfast when we were kids, most of us may still want to do that, but we wouldn’t find it right as an adult because we’ve grown and matured.


What are Tony Stark’s Morals and Ethics?


So, I wasn’t Team Iron Man until reading this new book The Avengers and Philosophy and understood what utilitarianism is. Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy of doing what’s right for the greater good. It also involves using more logic to make decisions rather than emotions. It involves analyzing the data to make the best decision based off of predicted outcomes.


Although I’ve learned that this has it’s own flaws because a lot of prediction comes into play, and nobody can predict the future, I still realized that I subscribe to utilitarianism.


The Civil War had Captain America and Tony Stark at war because Tony Stark looked at the data and predictable outcome and figured, “You know what, this hero registration thing is happening anyway, I might as well jump on board and have some say in how this is going to go down.” It kind of reminds me of why people like Elon Musk joined Donald Trump’s advisory board. Although Musk doesn’t believe in the same things as Trump, he decided to take the backlash because he always thinks about benefiting the greater good. He figured it’d be better to try to make change from the inside than scream from the outside.


The other aspect of Tony Stark’s moral compass is that he is willing to sacrifice one to help many, and this is where he and Captain America butt heads. There’s a part in the comics where Tony Stark stops the Dynamo’s heart and then revives him, and Captain America gets pissed. Based on Cap’s moral compass, killing someone (even though you revive them after) is never okay. While Tony Stark believed it was worth the risk of potentially killing Dynamo in an effort to save lives.


There’s an old philosophical thought experiment that goes like this:


You’re on a runaway trolley and the brakes don’t work. On the track is a group of people, and if you keep going, you’ll kill all of the people on the track. Now, you have the option to pull the lever to switch tracks, and on that track is one person who you would kill.


Would you stay the course thus avoiding making the decision to kill someone, or would you make the conscious decision to pull the lever and take out the one person in order to save the group of people?


Basically, in this thought experiment, Tony Stark would pull the lever while Captain America either A) wouldn’t pull the lever or B) would try to sacrifice himself and save everyone.


I am Team Tony Stark


I hope by now you understand that morals and ethics are dependent on the person who is talking about them based on their personal, subjective beliefs. In my opinion, I don’t think anyone is right or wrong, but I do believe we should respect each other’s morals and ethics as long as they hold them with conviction.


After learning the difference between a utilitarian and deontologist, I realized that I side with the former. I believe in doing what’s best for the greater good. Although I never thought my channel would blow up the way it did and YouTubers would actually see my videos, I still continued my work once they did. Why? Because I believe it was worth hurting one person’s feelings if I could potentially help thousands of people. And if I’m being honest, this is the philosophy every commentary channel on YouTube believes in as well, whether they admit it or not and it’s why they consistently call out what they feel is bad behavior as well even though it might hurt a YouTubers feelings.


Now that you understand more about this philosophical debate about which one is correct, are you Team Iron Man or Team Cap?


Chris Boutte