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Good and Evil

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By darcylingg
Words 894
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Good & Evil
Capella University
April 2014

For my paper on good and evil, I chose to analyze the movie Casablanca. In this black and white film produced in 1942, Rick Blaine (played by Humphrey Bogart) an exiled American, and a former freedom fighter , runs the most popular nightclub in town. He meets the stunning Ilsa Lund (played by Ingrid Bergman), and they fall in love. The twist comes when we discover that Ilsa is in fact married to another man, Victor Laszlo (played by Paul Henreid) who is believed to have been killed previously in a Nazi concentration camp. Victor leads the Nazi underground resistance and is wanted by the Germans. When Ilsa discovers that her husband is in fact alive, she promptly leaves rick hanging and disappears. Later, she reappears in Rick’s nightclub causing Rick quiet the emotional stir. Ilsa and Victor are looking for two letters of transit so that they may leave and return to safety. All the while Major Heinrich Strasser is looking to thwart the underground resistance and detain anyone who may be involved. In the end , Rick assists Victor and Ilsa in their escape. Utilitarian’s say that what determines an action as right is to understand what will happen as a result of doing it . This is at the heart of its theory. Happiness is desirable is the doctrine of utilitarianism ( Rachels and Rachels ,2010) . Rick is aware that he will never see Ilsa again if he puts her on that plane with Victor, yet he puts his own happiness aside for the greater good, knowing that helping Victor escape will allow him to free many more people through the resistance. However, Rick’s character started out very different at the beginning of the movie . Immanuel Kant insisted that ethics be based on a person’s rational and universal duty to one’s self and others ( Somers & Somers 2013). Due to past life experiences, Rick had become very cynical and self-serving, falling under Kant’s theory. It was not until later that his character shifted gears falling under the philosophy of Mills , looking to help the greater good . In this way , Rick Blaine was the embodiment of both Kant and Mills theories. Victor Laszlo better fits mills utilitarian views , by working for the resistance and providing the greatest good or happiness for the greatest number of people. Deontological ethics (duty based ethics) are concerned with what people do, not with the consequences of their actions. Under this form of ethics , you can’t justify an action by showing that it produced good consequences. Duty based ethics teaches that some acts are right or wrong because of the sorts of things they are, and people have a duty to act accordingly, regardless of good or bad consequences (BBC,2013) Someone who follows duty based ethics should do the right thing, even if that produces more harm than doing the wrong thing, for example , in Kant’s view , it would be wrong to tell a lie , even if it saved a friend from being murdered. Consequentialism (result based ethics) is based on two principles; whether an act is right or wrong depends only on the results of that act and the more good consequences an act produces, the better or more right that act is. The classic form of result based ethics is utilitarianism. This says that the ethically right choice in a given situation is the one that produces the most happiness and the last unhappiness for the largest number of people. The characters in the movie Casablanca exemplify both good and evil. Rick , who starts out cynical, cold, bitter and self-serving, eventually turns it all around with the selfless act of risking his own life and freedom to help save Ilsa who he loves and Victor so that they can go on to save countless more. Some would say that that is a truly good act. We also have Victor, who risks his life and the life of his wife as well as their freedom to help the resistance, even after he was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp for years, also a good act. Captain Renault, who had been Major Strasser’s right hand man throughout the movie has a change of heart and ends up helping Rick with Ilsa and Victor’s escape, switching sides and doing the right thing. On the evil end of the spectrum, we have Major Strasser, who in the movie is the representation of the evil Nazi empire, hell bent on doing as much damage to the resistance as possible, as well as anyone involved. The movie Casablanca is a very good example of both good and evil, and how people can choose to be either. This is shown to us through the characters transformations throughout the movie. I feel the movie tried to highlight that there is good in people no matter the circumstance and that eventually good acts will triumph over evil ones.

Rachels, J. & Rachels, S. (2010). The Elements of Moral Philosophy (6th ed.).New York, New York. Mc Graw Hill Comp

Sommers, C., & Sommers, F. (2010). Vice and Virtue in Everyday Life: Introductory Readings in Ethics (8th ed.). Belmount, CA: Wagsworth, Centage Learning.anies, Inc.

Duty Based Ethics. (2013, January 1). Ethics Guide. Retrieved April 20, 2014, from…...

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