Monday, May 7, 2012

Abstract: What is an Ethical Superhero? by Travis Cannady and Zach Taylor

It can easily be said that superheroes in today’s movies do good for society. People with extra ordinary abilities fighting evil is good that can’t be argued with, but the ethics behind the actions taken by these heroes can be. The ethics of the major superheroes in movies today was evaluated against the philosophy of Kantianism and utilitarianism. Through this study it was be determined what code of ethics these superheroes uphold, whether it is Kant’s categorical imperative or the utilitarian view of the greatest good for the greatest number. This was done by narrowing the superheroes to the movies of the last decade and sticking with only the major heroes of the Marvel and DC universe, excluding the X-men, Hulk, and Fantastic 4. Basing the information on what the movie displays of the hero (no comic book or TV show knowledge), their actions were determined to be either utilitarian or Kantian. It was revealed through this study that the only true Kantian superhero was Superman. While Batman practices the same philosophy, when pushed to complete desperation in The Dark Knight, he commits actions he even considers unethical. Spiderman also practices Kantianism until Spiderman 3 when he is consumed by the black spidey suit and attempts to kill. The study shows that Ironman, Captain America, and Thor are all utilitarian because they all have killed.

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