Tangled Ethics Abstract
The existence of evil is one of philosophy’s toughest dilemmas. Throughout history, philosophers have been confounded with the massive scope of what is right and wrong, and how it applies to human action. The definition of evil has connections to ethics, religion, and morality; it is such a broad topic that it is necessary to break it down. The way people determine whether an act is evil depends on their ethical code. Almost any action can be justified when viewed in a given ethical context.
Utilitarianism, founded by Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill, is a school of philosophy that believes ethics should be based on numbers. It attempts to remove perspective by taking an objective stance to maximize benefits for the most people. An opposing viewpoint was proposed by Immanuel Kant. Kant’s deontological approach to ethics, also known as the categorical imperative, removes circumstance by looking at the action itself. Because these two ethical theories have different values, the same action can be viewed as moral or immoral depending on which theory is applied.
In Tangled, Mother Gothel holds Rapunzel against her will in a locked tower claiming that it is for Rapunzel’s own protection. Through a utilitarianism outlook, Mother Gothel is acting appropriately because both she and Rapunzel benefit. Mother Gothel benefits because she has access to Rapunzel’s magic healing hair, and Rapunzel benefits by staying away from harm. From the deontological position, however, holding Rapunzel against her will is an evil act in itself. Therefore Mother Gothel is immoral. These contrary judgments provide an excellent example of the difficulty in defining evil. The definition of evil depends on perspective and personal ethics.