Good and Evil: High Noon

Topics: Philosophy, Morality, Ethics Pages: 3 (1248 words) Published: August 12, 2012

The movie "High Noon" has interesting comparisons to the philosophies and views of Immanuel Kant and John Stuart Mill. It would be easy to analyze the lead character Kane as mirroring the philosophical views of Kant. This paper will analyze the somewhat contradictory actions of other characters which, to me, represent a quintessential truth about personal beliefs – that they are changed according to situation. I will be commenting on two characters in the movie which show a change in the views of the characters in relation to situational factors. We will be looking at Amy Kane and Mayor Jonas Henderson. Amy is Kane's new wife. She is a religious woman, a pacifist Quaker, who chose this lifestyle in response to having witnessed her father and brother killed by gunmen. Her current views on guns, violence and personal involvement in the two reflect an emotional bias which completely differs from the Kantian view, that ethics should be based on a person's rational and universal duty both to one's self and to others (Sommers & Sommers, 2010). Kant would disapprove of the fact that she focuses on consequences. She does not see the act of killing simply for its act and the defensive purpose. She thinks about who could and will die and not enough about why they would risk their lives to perform such an action. Kant would argue that she does not see the duty in the individual's action and rather is heavily focused on consequence. Amy exhibits more of the philosophy of John Stuart Mill who believed the foundation for ethical and moral action should be based on the greatest good or happiness for the greatest number of people (Sommers & Sommers, 2010). In the last scene of the movie, Amy takes a drastic turn from Mill’s views towards Kant's philosophy. She is able to set aside emotional reaction for rational thought, and by doing so realizes the duty she has of protecting her husband and his duty to protect her and the townspeople. She is...

References: Bykvist, K. (2009). Utilitarianism : a guide for the perplexed. Continuum.
ISBN: 978-0-8264-9809-0
Krammer, S. (Producer), & Zinnemann, F. (Director). (1952). High Noon [Motion Picture].
United States. United Artist Films
Sommers, C. & Sommers, F. (2010). From Cruelty to Goodness. Vice & Virtue in
Everyday Life,(8th Edition). Clark Baxter; Canada. ISBN 13: 978-0-495-60161-6
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