The vast majority of people hate Jaime because of what is in their opinion his greatest crime: pushing Bran out the window. They often claim that it's disgusting for Jaime to attempt to kill a child for the sake of his family. In this thread, I want to argue that it isn't so clear whether it was wrong for Jaime to push Bran out of the window. I don't want to defend this action, but I at least want to show that it isn't as obviously wrong as everyone thinks it is. To start with, I want to consider the two major perspectives on morality in normative ethics: utilitarianism and Kantian ethics.
Utilitarianism (to be more precise, act utilitarianism) is the view that an act is morally right if and only if it an act maximizes the good. I don't want to get into how the goodness of this act would be evaluated (some distinguish between the expected amount of goodness as a result of an action vs. the actual amount of goodness). Now, it's plain here how Jaime had reason in pushing Bran out of the window. He had 5 lives to save: his own, Cersei's, Joffrey's, Myrcella's and Tommen's. Killing Bran would prevent 5 other lives from being lost.
Kantian ethics is not concerned with the consequences of an action: it says that one ought to do the right thing for the sake of itself. So, for example, you should help a grandma cross the street because it's the right thing to do. And you should avoid wrong things for the same reason. Kant himself argued that you have a special duty to protect your family as opposed to protecting a stranger. It's not hard to see how this would play out: you have a special duty to protect 5 family members as opposed to protecting 1 stranger.
Many people have argued that Jaime was wrong in pushing Bran out of the window simply because he was risking an affair with Cersei, since they were risking the lives of their family and themselves. Now, I don't want to deny that Jaime and Cersei were foolish in doing this. But I think this is wholly irrelevant. It doesn't matter if they were having an affair, because it doesn't change the value of Jaime's action at that very moment. That is, his having a risky affair with Cersei doesn't make his family's lives any less valuable.
Now that I've presented the major philosophical perspectives, I want to ask everyone a question. What would you do if you were in Jaime's situation? Would you push Bran out of the window to save yourself, your sister-lover and your family? I'm sure everyone on this thread isn't so clear on what they'd do. Many are likely to push a child out of the window to save themselves and their family. This isn't even surprising, since evolution has shaped us to care more for ourselves and our family rather than a stranger's child.
Something I find really funny is the major double standard exhibited in some of the posts I've seen. Now, Jaime is considered to be this evil, awful character, while Ned, who is considered the paragon of morality by the vast majority of the people here, isn't even so sure what he'd do:
If it came to that, the life of some child I did not know, against Robb and Sansa and Arya and Bran and Rickon, what would I do? Even more so, what would Catelyn do, if it were Jon's life, against the children of her body? He did not know. He prayed he never would.
Jaime's actor thinks the same way I do. He doesn't think Jaime is a bad guy, either:
And we know that if Bran tells anyone about this Cersei will die, all the beautiful kids that Jaime and Cersei have, and also, by the way, this whole orphanage they’ve all been raising, they will all die. The fact that Jaime pushes this little monster out the window and tries to kill him — he didn’t have a choice. It was either this little monster kid, or all these orphans and Cersei. One of the things I love about that scene is when Jaime says, “The things I do for love” and then he pushes Bran out. He’s not proud of it, but at the time he knows there are no other options. He knows that if Bran tells anyone, it’s over. He’s going to die, she’s going to die. It would mean the end of the Lannister family. It’s not because he’s an evil psychopath. It’s not something he’s proud of, but he has to do it.
My point is just he’s not a bad guy in my world. I’m not saying he’s a good guy. He’s just a human being. He’s a human being who’s put in a world where choices can have extreme consequences, where he has been forced to deal with life and death, and that’s made him who he is.
I hope I was able to at least somewhat convince you that it's not so indefensible for Jaime to push Bran out the window. There are many ethically sound ways to justify his action, and even Ned himself isn't sure what he would do. If we are going to give Jaime crap at all for his crimes, we should do it for killing Ned's men--which was pretty unnecessary and immature, but done out of anger--rather than pushing Bran to his death.
Edited by KingslayerHodor, 14 May 2014 - 06:38 AM.