Friday, June 17, 2011

Comics and Philosophy: Green Lantern Edition

The Green Lantern Movie may be getting hammered by critics, but Mark White sees some philosophical implications that transcend popularity.
We can also see this play out in the debates between different forms of moral theory. Each of them is assumed as an obvious or common sense standpoint by its practitioners and advocates, but they are deeply at odds with each other. For utilitarians, it seems completely obvious that decisions and policies ought to be formed in a way that will promote the greatest good of the greatest number. For deontologists, who are focused on duty and universal principles, it seems just as obvious that we owe each and every person a respect that cannot be overridden. And for care ethicists, who focus on context and the relationships between people, the impersonal calculations of utilitarians and deontologists can seem excessively cold and unfeeling. These debates show that while our own moral principles seem obvious to us, they're not obvious to everyone.

In exploring how the members of the Green Lantern Corps manage to cooperate in the fight for justice while disagreeing about what, exactly, justice is, we can see the many different foundations of morality at play in a way that is removed from our day-to-day worries. By watching members of the Corps struggle with different views of right and wrong, we can gain insight into the concerns of people whose moral foundations differ from our own. This can only help in promoting civility within political and moral discussions, even for those of us without incredible power rings at our disposal.


yanktonirishred said...

No interest in paying for a theater ticket to see this but I will probably rent it. That comes more from my dislike of Ryan Reynolds and my being a Marvel guy though.

caheidelberger said...

(A) I apparently need to watch this movie. Shane, call me when you rent it; we'll come over.

(B) I look forward to hearing LD cases with care ethics and Green Lantern Corps dialectic as dual criteria.

LK said...

A. I'm a Marvel guy for the most part.

B. I'll probably buy Green Lantern and Philosophy so Cory can hear a citation in round.

C. If there's a viewing party, I'll bring popcorn.