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For most of recorded history, our species has lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the [[WhiteAndGreyMorality ideal-hero fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

to:

For most of recorded history, our species has lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting competing with others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the [[WhiteAndGreyMorality ideal-hero fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].



The ideal hero's reliance on the ''local'' norms and morals of the society he operates within may be the reason why superheroes, realistically, often have trouble operating ''globally'', as different countries may have divergent norms, making foreign ideal heroes look to them like war heroes coming over to conquer them (especially if said countries are not themselves at a point of needing their own superhero myths).

to:

The ideal hero's reliance on the ''local'' norms and morals of the society within which he operates within may be the reason why superheroes, realistically, often have trouble operating ''globally'', as different countries may have divergent norms, making foreign ideal heroes look to them like war heroes coming over to conquer them (especially if said countries are not themselves at a point of needing their own superhero myths).


For most of human history, our species has lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the [[WhiteAndGreyMorality ideal-hero fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

The morality of war heroes and their myths is overtly utilitarian: if they have to sacrifice innocents to achieve victory, they will do so because efficient problem solving and concentration of (fire)power are the best way to resolve existential conflicts with clear-cut sides. On the other hand, within-group conflicts tend to be much more political and messy about their sides, with allegiances fluctuating and shifting too fast to apply utilitarian, military thinking to them. The ideal hero therefore instead relies on and enforces a set of Kantian [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative categorical imperatives]] compatible with the social norms of the group in question (the most popular of which is, of course, ThouShaltNotKill). By sticking to his society's imperatives even when it would be more practical in the utilitarian short term to break them, the ideal hero establishes a reputation and secures the majority support within the community in the long term, ultimately achieving a [[DoomedMoralVictor moral, rather than existential victory]] over his opponents.

to:

For most of human recorded history, our species has lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the [[WhiteAndGreyMorality ideal-hero fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

The morality of war heroes {{war hero}}es and their myths is overtly utilitarian: if they have to sacrifice innocents to achieve victory, they will do so because efficient problem solving and concentration of (fire)power are the best way to resolve existential conflicts with clear-cut sides. On the other hand, within-group conflicts tend to be much more political and messy about their sides, with allegiances fluctuating and shifting too fast to apply utilitarian, military thinking to them. The ideal hero therefore instead relies on and enforces a set of Kantian [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative categorical imperatives]] compatible with the social norms of the group in question (the most popular of which is, of course, ThouShaltNotKill). By sticking to his society's imperatives even when it would be more practical in the utilitarian short term to break them, the ideal hero establishes a reputation and secures the majority support within the community in the long term, ultimately achieving a [[DoomedMoralVictor moral, rather than existential victory]] over his opponents.


[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes [[AntiHero were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times]], [[ValuesDissonance yet are still upheld as champions by their respective cultures]]. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.

For most of human history, our species lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the [[WhiteAndGreyMorality ideal-hero fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

to:

[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes [[AntiHero were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times]], [[ValuesDissonance yet are but were (and some still are) upheld as champions by their respective cultures]]. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.

For most of human history, our species has lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the [[WhiteAndGreyMorality ideal-hero fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].


[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes [[AntiHero were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times]], [[MoralDissonance yet are still upheld as champions by their respective cultures]]. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.

to:

[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes [[AntiHero were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times]], [[MoralDissonance [[ValuesDissonance yet are still upheld as champions by their respective cultures]]. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.


[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times, yet are still upheld as champions by their respective cultures. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.

to:

[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes [[AntiHero were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times, times]], [[MoralDissonance yet are still upheld as champions by their respective cultures.cultures]]. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.


[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times, yet still upheld as champions by their respective cultures. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.

to:

[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times, yet are still upheld as champions by their respective cultures. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.



# '''Third-party judgment'''. An ideal hero will actively meddle in within-group conflicts that do not involve them personally in order to set things right. In fact, they will often sacrifice their own well-being and relationships in order to ensure the proper functioning of society at large. By contrast, war heroes typically only get involved to defend their own home or to benefit from their conquests.

to:

# '''Third-party judgment'''. An ideal hero will actively meddle in within-group conflicts that do not involve them personally personally, in order to set things right. In fact, they will often sacrifice their own well-being and relationships in order to ensure the proper functioning of society at large. By contrast, war heroes typically only get involved to defend their own home or to benefit from their conquests.



The ideal hero's reliance on the ''local'' norms and morals of the society he operates within may be the reason why superheroes, realistically, often have trouble operating ''globally'', as different countries may have divergent norms, making foreign ideal heroes look to them like war heroes coming to conquer them (especially if said countries are not themselves at a point of needing their own superhero myths).

to:

The ideal hero's reliance on the ''local'' norms and morals of the society he operates within may be the reason why superheroes, realistically, often have trouble operating ''globally'', as different countries may have divergent norms, making foreign ideal heroes look to them like war heroes coming over to conquer them (especially if said countries are not themselves at a point of needing their own superhero myths).


For most of human history, our species lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the ideal hero [[WhiteAndGreyMorality fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

to:

For most of human history, our species lived in relatively small communities/groups fighting others over limited resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and more depersonalized, their susceptibility to internal strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is mediating conflict according to a set of norms and morals espoused by his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war for survival, the ideal hero [[WhiteAndGreyMorality ideal-hero fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].


For most of human history, our species lived in relatives small communities/groups in an existential conflict with others over limited resources. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and anonymous, their tendency for internal conflict outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict, essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is adhering to the set of norms and morals espoused by the specific society he belongs to. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war, the ideal hero [[WhiteAndGreyMorality fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

The morality of war heroes and their myths is overtly utilitarian: if they have to sacrifice innocents to achieve victory, they will do so because efficient problem solving and concentration of (fire)power are the best way to resolve an existential conflict between groups with clear-cut sides. On the other hand, within-group conflicts tend to be much more political and messy about their sides, with allegiances fluctuating and shifting too fast to apply utilitarian, military thinking to them. The ideal hero therefore instead relies on and enforces a set of Kantian [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative categorical imperatives]] compatible with the social norms of the group in question (the most popular of which is, of course, ThouShaltNotKill). By sticking to his society's imperatives even when it would be more practical in the utilitarian short term to break them, the ideal hero establishes a reputation and secures the majority support within the community in the long term, ultimately achieving a [[DoomedMoralVictor moral, rather than existential victory]] over his opponents.

Descioli and Kurzban additionally identify three pillars of "superhero moral code", as they refer to the morality of the ideal heroes:

to:

For most of human history, our species lived in relatives relatively small communities/groups in an existential conflict with fighting others over limited resources.resources in an existential conflict. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and anonymous, more depersonalized, their tendency for susceptibility to internal conflict strife outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict, conflict -- essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is adhering mediating conflict according to the a set of norms and morals espoused by the specific society he belongs to. his society. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war, war for survival, the ideal hero [[WhiteAndGreyMorality fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

The morality of war heroes and their myths is overtly utilitarian: if they have to sacrifice innocents to achieve victory, they will do so because efficient problem solving and concentration of (fire)power are the best way to resolve an existential conflict between groups conflicts with clear-cut sides. On the other hand, within-group conflicts tend to be much more political and messy about their sides, with allegiances fluctuating and shifting too fast to apply utilitarian, military thinking to them. The ideal hero therefore instead relies on and enforces a set of Kantian [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative categorical imperatives]] compatible with the social norms of the group in question (the most popular of which is, of course, ThouShaltNotKill). By sticking to his society's imperatives even when it would be more practical in the utilitarian short term to break them, the ideal hero establishes a reputation and secures the majority support within the community in the long term, ultimately achieving a [[DoomedMoralVictor moral, rather than existential victory]] over his opponents.

Descioli and Kurzban additionally identify three pillars of the "superhero moral code", as code" (which is how they refer to the morality of the ideal heroes:
heroes):



# '''Moral impartiality'''. An ideal hero transcends the conflicts he mediates, embodying BlindJustice. One one hand, they will apply the same punishment to their friends who crossed the line as they would to other criminals; on the other, they will show the same restraint with their "enemies" as they would with their friends, e.g. never killing them out of hope for possible redemption.

Perhaps the most telling illustration of the difference between ideal and war hero moralities is their attitude towards the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem trolley problem]]: a war hero would probably push the fat man onto the tracks, because losing one potential fighter is preferable to losing five of them[[note]]unless they are all his enemies, in which case it's the other way around[[/note]], whereas an ideal hero would do probably nothing[[note]]or jump in front of the [[HeroicSacrifice trolley himself]][[/note]], because most societies condemn deliberate harming others more strongly than inaction leading to death by unfortunate circumstances. In other words, the war hero is guided by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_optimization utility optimization]], whereas the ideal hero is all about [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constraint_satisfaction constraint satisfaction]].

The ideal hero's reliance on the ''local'' norms and morals of the society he operates within may be the reason why superheroes, realistically, often have trouble operating ''globally'', as different countries may have divergent norms, making foreign ideal heroes look to them like war heroes come to conquer (especially if said countries are not themselves at a point where they need their own superhero myths).

to:

# '''Moral impartiality'''. An ideal hero transcends the conflicts he mediates, embodying BlindJustice. One On one hand, they he will apply the same punishment to their his friends who crossed the line as they he would to any other criminals; criminal; on the other, they he will show the same restraint with their his "enemies" as they he would with their his friends, e.g. never killing them out in hopes of hope for their possible redemption.

Perhaps the most telling illustration of the difference between ideal and war hero moralities is their attitude towards the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem trolley problem]]: a war hero would probably push the fat man onto the tracks, because losing one potential fighter is preferable to losing five of them[[note]]unless they are all his enemies, in which case it's the other way around[[/note]], whereas an ideal hero would do probably nothing[[note]]or [[HeroicSacrifice jump in front of the [[HeroicSacrifice trolley himself]][[/note]], because most societies condemn deliberate harming of others more strongly than inaction leading that leads to death by unfortunate circumstances. In other words, the war hero is guided by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_optimization utility optimization]], whereas the ideal hero is all about [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constraint_satisfaction constraint satisfaction]].

The ideal hero's reliance on the ''local'' norms and morals of the society he operates within may be the reason why superheroes, realistically, often have trouble operating ''globally'', as different countries may have divergent norms, making foreign ideal heroes look to them like war heroes come coming to conquer them (especially if said countries are not themselves at a point where they need of needing their own superhero myths).

Added DiffLines:

!!Ideal/moralist heroes vs. classical/war heroes
[[https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284229535_Cracking_the_superheros_moral_code Descioli and Kurzban]] point out that the idea of an "ideal hero" who always does the right thing is a pretty new one, as far as cultural narratives go, and that most characters to whom the term "hero" has been applied since antiquity were of a very different mold. Many classical Greek, Indian, Chinese, etc. heroes were inherently flawed and destructive individuals who would be poor role-models in modern times, yet still upheld as champions by their respective cultures. Descioli and Kurzban argue that the distinction between these classical heroes and the modern ideal ones (exemplified by comic book superheroes like ComicBook/{{Superman}}) lies in that the former excel at ''between-group conflict'' and the latter, in ''within-group conflict''.

For most of human history, our species lived in relatives small communities/groups in an existential conflict with others over limited resources. As such, myths of powerful individuals whose main talent was [[OneManArmy slaying their enemies by the dozen]] were most relevant to members of said communities. These myths didn't need complex moral messages, because most of the time, their morality boiled down to a simple and easy-to-understand mantra [[BlackAndWhiteMorality "we are good, the Others are bad, so our hero kills them"]]. However, as communities grew larger and anonymous, their tendency for internal conflict outpaced their ability to self-police, requiring the creation of specialized social institutes for law enforcement. By similar processes, we observe the emergence of a new breed of hero, one specializing in within-group conflict, essentially a crime fighter, whose main talent is adhering to the set of norms and morals espoused by the specific society he belongs to. Because a within-group conflict can never be resolved just by killing every opponent, unlike a inter-group war, the ideal hero [[WhiteAndGreyMorality fights the "bad" guys to subdue and, ultimately, to redeem them]].

The morality of war heroes and their myths is overtly utilitarian: if they have to sacrifice innocents to achieve victory, they will do so because efficient problem solving and concentration of (fire)power are the best way to resolve an existential conflict between groups with clear-cut sides. On the other hand, within-group conflicts tend to be much more political and messy about their sides, with allegiances fluctuating and shifting too fast to apply utilitarian, military thinking to them. The ideal hero therefore instead relies on and enforces a set of Kantian [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative categorical imperatives]] compatible with the social norms of the group in question (the most popular of which is, of course, ThouShaltNotKill). By sticking to his society's imperatives even when it would be more practical in the utilitarian short term to break them, the ideal hero establishes a reputation and secures the majority support within the community in the long term, ultimately achieving a [[DoomedMoralVictor moral, rather than existential victory]] over his opponents.

Descioli and Kurzban additionally identify three pillars of "superhero moral code", as they refer to the morality of the ideal heroes:

# '''Third-party judgment'''. An ideal hero will actively meddle in within-group conflicts that do not involve them personally in order to set things right. In fact, they will often sacrifice their own well-being and relationships in order to ensure the proper functioning of society at large. By contrast, war heroes typically only get involved to defend their own home or to benefit from their conquests.
# '''Moralistic punishment'''. An ideal hero metes out punishments appropriate for the wrongdoings that he thwarts, i.e. he is not a VigilanteMan killing criminals for personal {{Revenge}}, but a rational agent of justice (as understood by his society) who just happens to operate outside of the society's established institutions. Contrast this with the celebration of the war heroes' destructive emotions like wrath, rage, and vengeance.
# '''Moral impartiality'''. An ideal hero transcends the conflicts he mediates, embodying BlindJustice. One one hand, they will apply the same punishment to their friends who crossed the line as they would to other criminals; on the other, they will show the same restraint with their "enemies" as they would with their friends, e.g. never killing them out of hope for possible redemption.

Perhaps the most telling illustration of the difference between ideal and war hero moralities is their attitude towards the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem trolley problem]]: a war hero would probably push the fat man onto the tracks, because losing one potential fighter is preferable to losing five of them[[note]]unless they are all his enemies, in which case it's the other way around[[/note]], whereas an ideal hero would do probably nothing[[note]]or jump in front of the [[HeroicSacrifice trolley himself]][[/note]], because most societies condemn deliberate harming others more strongly than inaction leading to death by unfortunate circumstances. In other words, the war hero is guided by [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_optimization utility optimization]], whereas the ideal hero is all about [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constraint_satisfaction constraint satisfaction]].

The ideal hero's reliance on the ''local'' norms and morals of the society he operates within may be the reason why superheroes, realistically, often have trouble operating ''globally'', as different countries may have divergent norms, making foreign ideal heroes look to them like war heroes come to conquer (especially if said countries are not themselves at a point where they need their own superhero myths).
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