“The Cold Equations” by Tom Goodwin


In this meeting we continue to explore moral questions. The “vehicle”, this time, is a short SciFi story “The Cold Equations” written by Tom Godwin in 1954.

Despite the fact that this group is concerned with philosophy, we turn again this meeting to fiction literature for our preparatory material. The reading, The Cold Equations, is an acclaimed science fiction short story which should prove fertile for consideration of value theory. The Twilight Zone episode of the same name (linked below) is based on the story. Enjoy either, or both.

The story presents a circumstance in which a moral decision must be made, and is made according to a set of rules that purportedly justify the decision. After you’ve read / viewed the story, ask yourself not only whether or not the decision made is the right one, but, also, whether or not such a set of rules as are applied is the right sort that one should use for such decisions.

Link to the story:


Link to the Twilight Zone episode “The Cold Equations”: