Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics through Movies

Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics through Movies

Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics through Movies

Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics through Movies


Seeing the Light: Exploring Ethics Through Movies is an engaging and innovative approach to the study of philosophy and the development of moral reasoning skills.
  • Features broad coverage of topics in ethics and moral reasoning
  • Offers an innovative and imaginative approach to showing relevance of movies for ethical reflection
  • Draws on a diverse selection of popular movies, foreign films, and documentaries to illustrate ethical dilemmas and character development on the big screen that has application to our lives
  • Presents coverage of nbsp;major ethical theories ranging from Ethical Egoism and Cultural Relativism to Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics, Rawls' Justice Theory, Aristotle's Virtue Ethics, and Feminist Ethics
  • Demonstrates how film is a powerful vehicle for sharpening skills in analysis and moral reasoning
  • Includes accompanying website


I will tell you something about stories, [he said] They aren’t just
entertainment. Don’t be fooled … You don’t have anything if you don’t have
the stories

—Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony

I will tell you something about movies. They aren’t just entertainment; they are powerful ways to see into the workings of our minds and hearts. With movies, we can get a better sense of what we are doing here, why we are doing it, and what in the world we need to do to bring about the changes we seek.

If you love movies or like to come at philosophical concepts and ethics from the ground up, this book is for you. If you are fascinated by characters who are wrestling over decisions, trying to be true to their values, and reflecting on the choices they made, then you’re in the right place. And if you like the interplay between ideas and theories and what we see on screen, welcome to Seeing the Light.

We don’t have anything if we don’t have the stories, as Leslie Marmon Silko says. Stories—the backbone of the movies we see—keep hope alive, give us a glimpse of what we are capable of, help us see more clearly, and reflect on the decisions we make. “Stories make you live right. Stories make you replace yourself,” Benton Lewis told anthropologist Keith Basso. How right he was! The power of movies goes far beyond one-liners etched inside our skulls. They set in motion thoughts and ideas that enable us to get a better moral grip. They inspire us to look beyond this or that movie to our own lives, to the lives of others, and to the society as a whole. We gain insight into moral reasoning in general and our own thought processes in particular.

As a philosophy professor who teaches ethics and problem solving (e.g., in critical thinking, logic, philosophy of law, bioethics, and contemporary moral problems), I wanted a book to reflect on ethics and explore the moral territory in a way that was neither dry nor abstract. Bring it to life! Aristotle was right to see the power of art and particularly drama (thus, movies) to help us develop moral character. Going into this territory and writing this book seemed right on target. Thus this project.

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