I was in the shower this morning thinking about Superman.
No, no, it's not what you think. I had just read some article that referred to the ring of Gyges, and it got me thinking about human nature, and wielding power. So the amazing thing about Superman, as we all know, is that he's sort of all-powerful (though not invisible) but he never takes advantage of other people. Just think about how amazing that is! Can anybody say that they could be so restrained with Superman's powers? Also, he has an intuitive sense of right and wrong. He can quickly survey a scene and know what is the moral course of action. I concluded as I soaped my head (I have no hair, and thus no use for shampoo) that Superman was the perfect example for a virtue ethicist. He's been raised properly, and always picks the path of the golden mean (though his mean is going to be radically different from mine and yours). "He's perhaps to brave," you say, but I think he knows to keep his distance from kryptonite, does he not? He's not thinking about consequences, necessarily, when he acts, he just does what he thinks is right.
Then I got around to thinking about other superheroes. Batman's a consequentialist, of course. I don't know if he's a utilitarian or not, but certainly some kind of consequentialist. He can be a little brutal because he thinks it's necessary to achieve his ends. He doesn't have the moral perception that superman has, and while superman is optimistic about human nature, Batman is pessimistic. Batman, I think, is often inclined towards the extremes of many of the categories in which Superman finds a golden mean. But Batman is disciplined, and has a strong sense of duty. He kicks butt when he needs to.
Then I was trying to think of a Kantian superhero. Batman and Superman lie way too often to be Kantians. A Kantian superhero has got to be without a secret identity, then. What would he/she do, just run around treating people as ends in themselves, never as mere means?? Wonderwoman is good, because she doesn't have a secret identity, but I think she's more like superman, probably a virtue ethicist. Spiderman's a utilitarian, I think. The Green lantern? Aquaman? He's always looking out for the rights of sea-creatures, but they're not rational. Or are they...? Maybe he knows something we don't. Captain America? He doesn't exactly have a secret identity, its more like he left his old identity behind when he became captian america. He's also really into freedom, so that's good. Anyone have a suggestion? This is bugging me.