I believe that this rule is correct as when it comes to people as many needs generally is more important than the one need. However this also depends on the severity of the 'need' l, or how important it is. Furthermore one life is not worth more than many lives as life cannot be weighed or compared. So killing one to save many is definitely wrong.
The rule must be adapted to the situation and there are definitely exceptions. However I do believe that the statement is more correct than wrong.
What people are not understanding is the operative word "need." If Spock had not sacrificed himself then the Enterprise and her entire crew would have been lost, including Spock. He would have died anyway, but if he did what he did then the many would and did survive. Yes, many would say it was a voluntary sacrifice, and perhaps made him a hero, but look how many people retained their lives. I believe this is what the quote is meant to suggest. You cannot compare monitary needs because no majority of people will loose their life because of money. Food could be used as an argument, but again, people will do what they must to survive thus in their mind their need is greater than anyone elses. So what this comes down to is the circumstance of the situation in question.
However, the reason you have a constitution, is that it sets limits to democracy. America has freedom of religion as a constitutional right. It doesn't matter how many people decide they want to imprison Muslims for practicing their religion, it will not pass.
That is why if the President authorizes waterboarding, or plants bugs, it is a very big deal. Even though he is democratically elected, he is still bound by the constitution.
This summarizes the huge geo-political issues facing us now. Should 62 people own as much wealth as the bottom 3 billion people on this planet? Should corporations be permitted to destroy the environment for shareholder profit and executive bonuses? Should corporations be legally declared to be people and that money is free speech, and therefore they are entitled to buy democracies? Should people be allowed to hoard huge wealth while so many people live in poverty? What should the majority do when oligarchs, monarchies, kleptocrats, dictators, fascists, Czars, and petty corrupt politicians (the minority) use their power and privilege to enslave or deprive the majority? As Balzac stated, behind great wealth is often a great crime.
This is a fact of life . This isn't to say that the few should be ignored and generosity and sympathy ushered off to side. Very often there is enough room to provide comfort for the few through compromise. However, as a general rule " The needs of the many outweigh the need of the few " in hopeless situations. In recent times we see the reversal of it where the Rich (few) becomes richer and the Poor (many) becomes poorer or at least not much wealthier.
If a pregnant prostitute is dangling precariously from the edge of a 20 story building on one side of town, while on the other an orphanage full of 50 or so prepubescent, innocent children is on fire, and they are all trapped inside, which would benefit society more for the hero to save, given that he doesn't have time to save both and he is the only hero available?
History is full of examples of individuals that have sacrificed themselves for the good of the many. Often these people are referred to as heroes because their actions have saved or benefited the whole group. The Spartan 300 gave their lives at Thermopylae so that their countrymen could regroup, and eventually defeat Xerxes' navy at the battle of Salamis. This led to a partial withdrawal, and the Greeks defeated the Persian army that remained at the battle of Plataea the following year.
It is not easy. Nobody thinks that making any decision that leads to the deaths of anyone would be easy decisions to make, but ultimately, the needs of the many always come first. It is true that saving one life is worth a huge cost, but not the cost of multiple lives in many situations.
Our country needs to once again remember that the needs of the many outweigh the few. It is ridiculous how we conform to a few crazy people. For instance, less than one percent of people get offended by "Merry Christmas" but yet now we can't say those words because someone might get offended.
The needs of the many do outweigh the needs of the one. But the place where this could get dangerous is when people perceive things that don't exist. For example, gay people were denied rights for many decades under the false pretense that giving them rights would somehow hurt the lives or rights of the majority. This wasn't true, of course. Generally though, it is best to help as many people as is possible with certain rules and legislation.
I'm a grade sixer learning about democracy. Sometimes yes the majority does rule and the needs of many outweigh the needs of the few. But sometimes the needs of the few outweigh the needs of many. Would you kill 3 people to save 100? I think everybody's life counts in every way.
Individuals decide morals, not herds, and only through the use of force can a majority impose their will over a minority. Sacrifice should be voluntary, not mandatory. Spock voluntarily chose to sacrifice himself in order to save the Enterprise because it was his belief that it was the most rational decision, and we all know how attached to logic Spock was. If worse comes to worst, someone might sacrifice themselves, as it is an innate human quality to be altruistic. At the same time, it is as likely someone might refuse to be sacrificed, placing themselves above all.
In which case, I would add that the needs of the essential outweigh the wants of the expendable, by Spock's reasoning, and his decision to sacrifice himself, rather than suggest, say, a maintenance worker or someone of less significant status that knew the reactor enough to fix it, was, ironically, highly illogical.
An easy equation:
On average, human life is valued as "invaluable", and in mathematical terms, this may equate to 'infinity'. An infinity, when multiplied by, divided by, added to, etc, will -always- remain an infinity. No matter how many instances of infinity are added to the equation, the ultimate answer will remain infinity.
Now whether or not an individual so -chooses- a sacrifice, of their own free will, is up to them. However, this does not dictate the worth of one individual in proportion to a population. Of course, majority opinion tends to sway the general public more often than not, but even the simplest of minorities should not be left unheeded.
Since it is generally asserted that everyone has the right of pursuit of happiness, you cannot deprive each individual's access to the pursuit, that is, the sole action of pursuit, regardless of the actual outcome. Therefore, it is both morally and logically wrongful to prohibit the few of pursuing happiness in order to meet the demand of the many.
There is IS and the Taliban out there and they are big groups and think that what they are doing is right when we all know it is not. Personally i do not always believe in utilitarianism as a group of 50 people may be doing something bad yet there are just 5 people doing good.
Sorry if this was a bit confusing!