The Ethics of “the Dark Knight”

The Ethics of “the Dark Knight”

There are several ethical systems discussed in the class notes. For instance, deontology ethical system involves the study of nature. Since deontology studies the whole earth, its weakness is the study of aspects considered to be wrong. Divine command theory is also another system discussed. The theory states that God commands an action that is good.The main strength of the religious command theory is the belief that God is always right. However, not all activities are good. The natural law theory states that human morality comes from nature.The main weakness of this theory is that morality does not come from an individual. Moreover, ethical rationalism is another ethical aspect discussed in the class notes. Ethical rationalism provides that moral principles are known by reason alone. Therefore, one has to reason before identifying a particular moral law.

Consequentialism, on the other hand, indicates that its consequences that judge the morality of an action. The greatest strength of consequentialism is that people learn from their mistakes. Utilitarianism is where actions are considered to be right if they are useful. However, since not all activities are helpful, the unhelpful actions are considered wrong. Additionally, ethical egoism is another moral system discussed in the notes. It is the state where people do what is in their self-interests. The strength of egoism is that people always like what they do. In ethical relativism, however, morality is typical for a culture. Although it allows for a variety of activities, it is difficult to reach ethical relativism. Cultural relativism is where the culture understands an individual’s belief. However, culture is not always accepting. In moral subjectivism, the norms of human conduct are ultimately determined by each person for themselves. Truth is not absolute but a creation of the one who perceives it. The virtue theory emphasizes on the virtues an individual has. However, virtues are good by definition.

The Dark Knight is a thriller film directed by Christopher Nolan based on the Batman comic book.The main characters include the Batman himself that is Bruce Wayne, the joker who unleashes terror on the city, Harvey Dent and Rachel who is Batman’s friends. Batman is the hero of the film representing an icon of justice for the town. On the other hand, the joker has evil intentions for the city and wants to kill Batman when he gets in his way. The two vigilantes unleash chaos in the whole city making the public forget who they are. However, they have to make quick, witty decisions to stop the joker from doing his desired actions. In the movie “The Dark Knight,” there are several examples of Ethical Systems. Among the six main characters in the film, an ethical system has been associated with each one. Even though each character may have exhibited traits of several different ethical systems, the system thought to be the best fitting is applied. The ethics of virtue, egoism, utilitarianism, ethics of care and the practical principle have all been linked to one character from the movie. However, the characters find themselves in an ethical dilemma where they have to make difficult choices. As discussed in this paper, “the Dark Knight” film depicts various ethical systems among the characters who face challenging moral dilemmas of heroism, dishonesty, and love.

In the movie, Batman shows examples of ethics of virtue. Batman explains the six pillars of character outlined in the text, which were created by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (2008). Batman shows trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship. He is entirely dedicated to stopping crime in the community and has gained respect and acknowledgment from doing so. However, his identity is unknown. Even though the town eventually wants him to turn himself in, he continues to attempt to stop the joker and ultimately stop crime in Gotham.Turning himself in before stopping the joker would give the joker an opportunity to continue perpetrating his crimes and terrorizing the citizens of Gotham city. Therefore, the batman decides to first fight the threat of the joker before considering turning himself in.

However, Bruce Wayne tries to hide his real identity behind the mask of the batman. His actions present a moral dilemma of honesty. Therefore, Batman has implied dishonesty with the intention of helping achieve justice in Gotham city. Thus, the batman leads two live as Batman and Bruce Wayne. He has created the mask of the batman to protect his own identity.Bruce achieves his objectives of hiding his personality since the public do not know who he is. However, the actions only benefit him and not the people. He, therefore, cannot be arrested since he shows up in the Batman costume doing his hero stunts saving the city from criminals like the joker. The citizens desire to know the real identity of the batman, but Bruce does not want to risk losing his social life due to publicity.

The Joker is another major character in the movie. The movie portrays the Joker as a psychopath with evil intentions for the whole city and their protector, the batman. He aims explicitly to kill the batman. However, it is difficult to lure the batsman out. Therefore, the joker has to kill innocent people to draw the attention of the batman. When the police are busy trying to fight crime, the Joker uses the crime families to his advantage. He even dresses hostages as minions so that the police will mistake them for criminals and shoot them dead. All his activities aim to get the batman come to him.However, the joker could have dealt with the batman without involving the innocent public. Through this, many lives would not have been lost in the chaos since only two individuals were at war.

The Joker shows extreme Egoism. Every decision the joker makes is towards his own goal of killing the batman. Everything he does is a step towards finding the batman. The Joker goes as far as killing innocent civilians and police officers, to get the batman to come forward. While the city is working towards stopping organized crime, TheJoker uses the different crime families to his advantage in trying to get a hold of the batman. The Joker strictly works for himself, and everything he does is to benefit his mission and his wrongdoing.Therefore, the joker does not care about the city as he claims.

The batman has several friends as Batman and BruceWayne. At some instances, he has to sacrifice his friends and loved ones to help fight crime in the city.Harvey Dent, who is batman’s friend offers to publicly claim he is the batman to help him capture the batman. The action costs him his reputation, and he gets arrested for it. Similarly, Rachel Dawes is also batman’s friend. However, she is in love with him but decides to marry Harvey since she does not foresee her future with Bruce. Therefore, the batman sacrifices his love and friendship to save the city. However, it shows that he cares more about his mission than his friends. He, however, sacrifices his life for the city.

Harvey Dent is an example of utilitarianism. By any means, he is doing what he can to bring all the organized crime and the Joker to justice. He puts his reputation on the line by saying he is the batman, which got him arrested and also severely injured, but this was an effort to bring the Joker forward so that the real Batman could take him down.  Moreover, Rachel Dawes the ethics of virtue. She shows constant attention to the relationships she has with Dent and Batman. Her entire role in the movie is based on her relationships to the other characters. Dawes is the girlfriend of Dent, yet she has a connection with Batman as well.

In conclusion, the various characters of the film employ different ethical systems such as ethics of virtue and egoism in dealing with the moral dilemmas before them.The batman has the ethics of virtue which he utilizes to solve his moral dilemma of dishonesty. On the other hand, the joker faces his dilemma of the safety of the public using his egoism. Similarly, Harvey Dent and Rachel have utilitarianism and ethics of virtue respectively. They face the dilemma of sacrificing friendship for the greater good. However, the batman sacrifices all he has to save the city from the Joker.


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