Moral Theory at the Movies provides students with a wonderfully approachable introduction to ethics. The book incorporates film summaries and study questions to draw students into ethical theory and then pairs them with classical philosophical texts. The students see how moral theories, dilemmas, and questions are represented in the given films and learn to apply these theories to the world they live in.
Dean Kowalski is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Manitowoc.
Chapter 1: Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Moral Reasoning Featured Film: Thank You for Smoking (2005) 1.1 Thinking through the Movie 1.2 Historical Setting: Plato, Gorgias (excerpt) 1.3 Discussion and Analysis 1.4 Two Additional Films: Minority Report (2002) and Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008) 1.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies PART I: Meta-ethics Chapter 2: Simple Ethical Subjectivism Featured Film: Match Point (2006) 2.1 Thinking through the Movie 2.2 Historical Setting: David Hume, "Ethics and Sentiment" 2.3 Discussion and Analysis 2.4 Two Additional Films: The Emperor's New Groove (2000) and The Shape of Things (2003) 2.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 3: Moral Relativism Featured Film: Hotel Rwanda (2004) 3.1 Thinking through the Movie 3.2 Historical Setting: William Sumner, "Folkways" 3.3 Discussion and Analysis 3.4 Two Additional Films: The Joy Luck Club (1993) and Do the Right Thing (1989) 3.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 4: Divine Command Theory Featured Film: Frailty (2001) 4.1 Thinking through the Movie 4.2 Historical Setting: Plato, Euthyphro 4.3 Discussion and Analysis 4.4 Two Additional Films: Evan Almighty (2007) and Boondock Saints (1999) 4.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 5: Ethical Objectivism Featured Film: The Cider House Rules (1999) 5.1 Thinking through the Movie 5.2 Historical Setting: Thomas Reid, "Of the First Principles of Morals" 5.3 Discussion and Analysis 5.4 Two Additional Films: Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) and Schindler's List (1993) 5.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies PART II: What Ought I to Do? Chapter 6: Biology, Psychology, and Ethical Theory Featured Film: Cast Away (2000) 6.1 Thinking through the Movie 6.2 Historical Setting: Aquinas, Summa (excerpt) 6.3 Discussion and Analysis 6.4 Two Additional Films: Boys Don't Cry (1999) and Spiderman 2 (2004) 6.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 7: Utilitarianism Featured Film: Extreme Measures (1996) 7.1 Thinking through the Movie 7.2 Historical Setting: John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism (excerpt) 7.3 Discussion and Analysis 7.4 Two Additional Films: Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Eternal Sunshine...Spotless Mind (2004) 7.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 8: Kant and Respect for Persons Ethics Featured Film: Horton Hears a Who (2007) 8.1 Thinking through the Movie 8.2 Historical Setting: Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (excerpt) 8.3 Discussion and Analysis 8.4 Two Additional Films: 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and Amistad (1997) 8.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 9: Social Contract Theory: Hobbes, Locke, and Rawls Featured Film: V for Vendetta (2005) 9.1 Thinking through the Movie 9.2 Historical Setting: Hobbes, Leviathan (excerpt) 9.3 Discussion and Analysis 9.4 Two Additional Films: Lord of the Flies (1990) and Serenity (2005) 9.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies PART III: How Ought I to Be? Chapter 10: Aristotle and Virtue Ethics Featured Film: Groundhog Day (1993) 10.1 Thinking through the Movie 10.2 Historical Setting: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (excerpt) 10.3 Discussion and Analysis 10.4 Two Additional Films: The Last Samurai (2003) and As Good as It Gets (1998) 10.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 11: Care and Friendship Featured Film: Vera Drake (2004) 11.1 Thinking through the Movie 11.2 Historical Setting: Nel Noddings, Caring (excerpt) 11.3 Discussion and Analysis 11.4 Two Additional Films: The X-Files: I Want to Believe (2007) and Life Is Beautiful (1998) 11.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies Chapter 12: Plato and Being Good Featured Film: The Emperor's Club (2003) 12.1 Thinking through the Movie 12.2 Historical Setting: Plato, Republic (excerpt) 12.3 Discussion and Analysis 12.4 Two Additional Films: Goodfellas (1990) and The Man without a Face (1993) 12.5 Reviewing through the Three Movies