What's Good on TV? Understanding Ethics through Television

What's Good on TV? Understanding Ethics through Television

What's Good on TV? Understanding Ethics through Television

What's Good on TV? Understanding Ethics through Television


What's Good on TV? Understanding Ethics Through Television presents an introduction to the basic theories and concepts of moral philosophy using concrete examples from classic and contemporary television shows.
  • Utilizes clear examples from popular contemporary and classic television shows, such as The Office, Law and Order, Star Trek and Family Guy, to illustrate complex philosophical concepts
  • Designed to be used as a stand-alone or supplementary introductory ethics text
  • Features case studies, study questions, and suggested readings
  • Episodes mentioned are from a wide variety of television shows, and are easily accessible
  • Offers a balanced treatment of a number of controversial ethical issues including environmental ethics, animal welfare, abortion, homosexuality, capital punishment, assisted suicide, censorship and the erosion of values
  • Includes a companion website at http://whatsgoodontv.webs.com
  • Excerpt


    We’ve been teaching ethics for a number of years at a variety of institutions (public community, technical, and four-year colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities) and one thing we’ve noticed in all our classes is that examples from popular culture help students understand abstract philosophical ideas more efficiently than textbook examples.

    When presented with textbook examples, students’ initial responses are often skeptical: “Well, but what else is going on in his life?” “Why is she on the trolley to begin with?” “Isn’t there a phone nearby, so he could call someone?” “Isn’t that against the law?” They are often more interested in how the case is set up than in the moral issue the case is attempting to elucidate. But with pop culture examples, students are more likely to recognize or identify with the characters, accept the back story, understand the circumstances, and more quickly focus on the moral issue. Even in cases where they aren’t familiar with the TV show, film, or video game, students are generally more willing to accept the circumstances as given and press into the ethical issues.

    Popular culture examples also have an ice-breaking effect, helping students to better connect with one another and the instructor through a shared understanding of a cultural icon. And, for instructors who are willing to keep up with a few trends, pop culture examples enrich the classroom experience, adding a degree of levity to otherwise serious debate.


    Focusing on the medium of television allowed us to fix our attention on one arena of culture that continues to have an immense effect on how we interact with one another. Television has been a notorious platform for expressions that challenge social mores (e.g., interracial kisses, bisexual . . .

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