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Utilitarianism in The Dark Knight

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Lucas Razuri

on 21 June 2013

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Transcript of Utilitarianism in The Dark Knight

Utilitarianism in:
- utilitarianism is the ethical theory proposed by Jeremy Bentham and John Mills that all action should be directed toward achieving the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people
-Morality is applied to decisions based on the impact of them, not necessarily the action that was taken
-Bentham used math to determine this morality, with his happiness calculus. The morality of the decision is based on the greater amount of positive versus negative consequences.
- This process is preformed in ones head whenever making a decision.
Benthomes Happiness Calculus
Deciding whether to take sixth shot of whiskey or not

1. Impress the hot girl with your manly drinking capacity
2. Show her how much fun you are
1. Accidently attract the other hot girl who is on the prowl
2. lose control of your sensibilities and take her home
3. Wake up in a bathtub full of ice missing an arm
Therefore, the sixth shot was an immoral decision
Mills Modification
Bentham used his happiness calculus to determine the greatest good in any situation. Mill though thought Benthams theory was too elementary. Modifying Benthams theory to be the greatest good for the greatest number of people. He believed that that the greatest good may not nessisarily be for the most people, but rather who benifited most from the decision.

Act Utilitarianism
Act utilitarianism dictates justification within each individual act. each decision must have the consequences interpreted individually to determine weather or not it is morally justified.
Back to the girl on the prowl, she needed $50 000 in effort to be a doctor and save lives in her future. The drunken guy presented an opportunity for her to steal his arm and sell it on the black market for $50 000 setting her on the path to be a great doctor. The consequence of this decision will benifit more people then it will hurt the one man who will lose his arm. This decision is morally justified
Rule Utilitarianism
Rule utilitarianism pursues a positive general consequence. Decisions are made within context of a greater goal and if the consequences are congruent with the greater goal, then the act is justified by rule utilitarianism. If applied to the previous example, then the moral justification changes. The greater goal for doctors is to promote health and help others. so the consequence of the drunken man being harmed by one who wants to be a doctor, makes her decision immoral.
Through the movie batman: the dark knight, the joker causing chaos, and Gotham city suffers through robberies, murders, robberies, assassinations and bombings. The joker announces to the city they must flee the city, the main way to leave being by ferries. The ferries not only evacuating citizens, but also prison inmates. The night of the evacuation, the joker disables two of the ferries which are loaded with explosives leaving the passengers to decide to to either destroy the opposite boat, or have both boats detonated by the joker by midnight. This leaving either the prisoners or innocent citizens to make a decision morally achieving with the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people
Moral Decisions by Gotham
Even though both boats had full intentions of destroying the opposite boat, the innocents citizens were arguing amongst themselves that they would be killing rapists and murderers. Why shouldn't they kill convicts who "already had their chance" to save their own lives. This putting the convicts into a position of being less morally worthy. Where as the boat full of convicts would not have had any problem killing others to have their own life saved. But in the end, neither of the boats acted, and due to their moral acts, no one was killed because the dark knight was at their rescue. Good seemed to triumph in the end
... are the decisions truley moral?
The fact that one boat does not blow up the other is presented as a triumph for good and decency. But really, this is just maximizing the blood shed. Of course in the movie, batman's act of utilitarianism saves all citizens, but if he did not, there would have been many deaths. Where as if one boat blew up the other there would be only half the lives lost, possibly those of criminals that "already had their chance." And from the point of view of the passengers, they had no idea batman would save them all. making the decisions of both boats immoral, causing maximum death (if not for batman). Any rational person would assume joker would very likely make good on his promise, and blow both boats.
Choices of passengers on either boat :
1. i dont blow up the other boat and either;
a) the other boat doesn't blow us up, and the joker blows us all up at midnight; or
b)the other boat blows us up, meaning we die and they live

2. i do blow up the other boat, meaning they die while we live

decisions, decisions ...
Ultimate Utilitarianism
the best way maximization of life would have been insured is that either one boat blows up the other. The only way to make sure this happens, is to blow up the other boat, which must happen before midnight. If you wanted to make things fair, you could give some time for the other boat to have a fair chance at blowing you up too. This creating only half the death that would have been the result, if not for batman.
If there was no batman to save the day, the decision that would have been for the greatest good for the greatest number of people, would have been for the citizens to blow up the inmates. brutal as it sounds, it results in saving the lives of the innocent citizens, and ending the lives of the inmates, rather then both boat loads of people dieing. That would conclud in less casualties and saving the lives of hundreds for the greater good.
The End
1. What would you have done if you were on one of the ferries, put into the situation the citizens were put in?
2. What do you believe would have been the decision resulting in the greatest good for the greatest number of people?
Lucas Razuri
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