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 Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday

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jimenez



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PostSubject: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Sun Jan 11, 2009 10:05 pm

Identify some scenes in the film 'Saving Private Ryan' OR 'Tears of The Sun'(i.e., important elements in the story) that may best be understood from a Utilitarian OR Deontological Perspective. Is/Are that/those act(s) or decision(s) presented justifiable? What would have been wrong about doing otherwise?
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delacruzjpe



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PostSubject: answer to the 4th writing assignment   Wed Jan 14, 2009 5:16 am

On Duty-based Ethics

Saving Private Ryan, a well-acclaimed war film, spoke the language of a clear-cut duty-based ethics, coated and contextualized in the military code of conduct. Inspired by World War II events, the writer has successfully pointed out specific moments in the life of a soldier when all he has to do is to be faithful in the chain of command and obey to the letter the will of his superior(s), without even due and prior regard to the effects of such actions. This line of thinking can be best understood in their famous motto, “Obey first, before you complain.”

Conversely, this has been the fundamental premise of deontological ethics; giving premium to the performance of duties, and considering it as having innate worth or value, thus, being morally good and acceptable. Moreover, deontology, as may also be termed as Non-Consequentialism, does not foresee the aftermath of actions and limits itself to the circumstance at-hand. Kant, a staunch supporter of this ethical theory further argues that doing something that is universally acceptable can already be qualified as being good, and this he refer to as good will.

To illustrate the point, I can site two certain scenes in the movie: first, when the American Military’s Chief-of-Staff General George Marshall handed down an order to rescue Private First Class James Francis Ryan of Baker Company, 1st Battalion 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in consideration that the latter’s three brothers, who were also sent on a mission, died. Such order was received by Captain John H. Miller, portrayed by Tom Hanks, who, despite the load he had then and with limited number of men, fully responded to the call-of-duty. Taking a closer look in this incident, Capt. Miller only did what is expected of him as a soldier and did not even bothered to question the existence of such person. What matters to him was that he should successfully bring back Private Ryan at all costs – even at the stake of not coming home and seeing his wife again. In this, deontology will tell us that Capt. Miller’s decision was morally justified and acceptable, although he has also the choice not to go and simply abort the mission.

Another scene which best exemplifies the notion of duty-ethics is when Capt. Miller already found Private Ryan, but the latter did not conform with the idea that he will be leaving his post and go home. Capt. Miller, understanding his mission very well, opted to stay with Private Ryan so as to complete both of their respective duties. Again, deontology will tell us that what the characters actually did in this particular scenario was the most moral thing to do, although both of them can actually have a dissenting choice.

In the end, duty-based ethics relays to us one important element in morality – that is, being able to discern if our actions, regardless of the consequences, are good in themselves, thus making the right and proper choice.
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bersamina.joshua



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PostSubject: On Utilitarianism and Higher Pleasures.   Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:31 am

On Utilitarianism and Higher Pleasures.

The movie Saving Private Ryan is replete with scenes and situations that are most likely to tickle a philosophical mind; every conflict in the text, with the given subtexts, gives the thinking viewer interesting things to ponder with.

Now, incorporating John Stuart Mill’s utilitarianist point of view in discerning what may be good or not, the movie Saving Private Ryan is likely to support the following points:

i) that in some given circumstances requiring decision-making, there exists a greatest good for the greatest number;
ii) that there are higher and lower kinds of pleasure with respect to individual point of views;
iii) that despite the fact that a common, universal standard of what is right and good may exist, “higher and lower pleasures” still vary from individual to individual;
iv) that oftentimes, these higher and lower pleasures are influenced by an individual’s own values and manner of thinking;
v) that duty as an objective in carrying out a task can sometimes be offset by the so-called summum bonum, or greatest good for the greatest number, and lastly;
vi) that a seemingly exorbitant cost needed to achieve a seemingly much less conclusion can sometimes be justified, mainly because of the social mores and cultural underpinnings that abound a society.

In the movie, eight men are sent to infiltrate a German district in France, seeking to save a lone soldier named James Ryan. These men are quite considered as the best of the US soldiers deployed in France, and that fact made the mission, as one of them remarked, “a grave misallocation of valuable resources.” They are sent to salvage Private James Ryan because his other three brothers have been killed in action, and the administration didn’t want the Ryans’ mother to lose all her sons fighting the war. Initially, the eight men led by Captain John Miller doubted the mission and seen it as an absurd one. But as they moved on , they realized that saving Private James Francis Ryan was the only decent thing they could do in the war. They hoped that Private Ryan be worthy of their sacrifices, and in the end, they found out that he is indeed worthy. Instead of coming home with them, Private Ryan opted to stay with his troops and hold the fortress. Captain Miller and the others realized that their mission was not a futile one.

Private Ryan showed us that his decision---staying with his comrades with the possibility of winning a most important skirmish for doing so, is a more important cause, a higher good, even higher than the chance of coming home to his mother who lost her three other sons. Private Ryan showed that a duty can also be a teleological element; a duty could also be an end in itself.
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ortiz



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PostSubject: Saving Private Ryan   Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:37 am

The plot of Saving Private Ryan is jumpstarted when three brothers are reported killed in action during the Allied invasion of Europe in the Second World War. As a response to this, military officials sent out an eight-man group that extracts Private Ryan (the fourth sibling) somewhere in Europe. The group of men, led by Captain John Miller set out to accomplish their mission. At the outset of their journey, they already suffer casualties, which beg the question, “Does saving one soldier justify putting eight men in harms way?”
It is clear that the decision to send a group of men to save one cannot be explained from utilitarian or a deontological point of view with ease. Both cannot justify the action fully, since in some aspects, the action does not align in both perspectives. However, the most obvious answer would be in the deontological perspective, this is so because of two reasons. First, their motive-to save a soldier from being killed- is morally right. Second, a deontologist would have said that merely following ones duty-obeying orders-is good in itself. Because of these reasons, we can haphazardly say that the action is justified in a deontological point of view. However, if we would look closer into Immanuel Kant’s elaboration of his deontologist view, we would see that in some aspects it is not justifiable. Kant said that what is moral is a fully rational person’s action without any inclinations whatsoever. It also should be an action with which we can say can be done universally in the same circumstances. Although the motive was indeed noble, it is of no doubt that it is irrational to have sent eight men to save one. It displaces resources of the military and sacrifices expertise such as snipers. The action cannot also be done universally.
It is even much harder to explain their actions in a utilitarian point of view. In order to justify it we should account of all the outcomes that came out of those actions. What is highlighted in the film is the death of almost all the members of the company who came to save Private Ryan. Second outcome is the grief that all the families of the men would have felt. Third, the guilt that Private Ryan would have felt after he knew that several men have sacrificed their life for him. Because of these three outcomes, we would also have said that saving Private Ryan was indeed not a good thing to do in the utilitarian point of view. One outcome, however, that makes us consider the previous judgment is the saving of the bridge that Ryan and his company were holding. Because of the men’s pursuit to get Private Ryan out of that place alive, they were forced to defend the bridge until air support could come. If they were not there and have not shared their military expertise, the bridge would have fallen to the Germans, thus making a great repercussion on the military campaign of the Allied forces. I cannot say with certainty that the goodness of this outcome for the Allied forces have offset the other outcomes said previously. However, we cannot also say with certainty, because of the magnitude of the victory, that the action of saving Private Ryan was bad in a utilitarian point of view.
To answer the questions above, we must use both perspectives. Although we cannot say that the action was completely justifiable, we cannot readily dismiss it whatever perspective we use.
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Pilarta-Lesly



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PostSubject: Tears of the Sun   Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:39 am

The movie “Tears of the Sun” revolved around the conflict between pursuing the mission alone and deviating from the original command. A physician without borders, Dr. Lena Kendricks was attending to the needs of the victims of the civil war in a Catholic mission when the Nigerian democratic government collapsed and a military dictator took over. Lieutenant Waters was ordered by his commanding officer, Captain Rhodes, to save her without engaging in the conflict. But Dr. Kendricks disagreed to leave the Nigerians. She wanted them to be brought to the political asylum near the border. The tactical team of Lt. Waters had n choice but to try to bring the people to the said location. They were pursed by the rebels and their lives were put in direct peril.

The decisions made were apparently a depiction of a utilitarian point of view. The choices made were departures from the original command. Thus, we can not really defend the actions through a deontological point of view. They did not abide by their duties, they were determined to achieve an end, that is to extract Dr. Kendricks and during the process also served the interests of the refugees. Thus, maximizing utility. Instead of saving just a few, they were able to save almost the whole community. Although there were casualties, the number of people saved minimizes the adverse effects of their actions. They also made profound repercussions on Nigerian politics since they were able to safeguard the son of the assassinated president whose family was massacred.

If they would have done otherwise, the outcome would have been apparent because of the fate that the priest and the two nuns suffered. Because they did not join the group, they were left vulnerable to the attacks of the rebels. If the soldiers did not choose to bring the whole community, the people would have also died in the hands of the rebels. Although choosing to save those people also had some negative repercussions, such as the loss of three soldiers during the encounters, there is no doubt that saving the people adhere with the greatest happiness principle.

Another decision made by the soldiers that manifested utilitarianism was the violation of the rues of engagement during an encounter with the rebels in a community that they had passed by along their trail. They initiated the attack, taking for granted the odds that faced them. But because of this violation and apparent irrationality, they were able to save a number of lives. This was indeed a consequentialist decision – the ends justify the means.

The soldiers were indeed consequentialist in their decisions. In a number of times they violated the rules and disregarded reason, prioritizing the end that is saving lives. They recognized duties as a means to an end instead of ends in themselves. They did not find goodness in pursuing their command but in securing the end. They maximized the opportunities they had to bring the greatest good from their actions.
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Camunay



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PostSubject: Tears of the Sun   Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:59 am

Antoine Fuqua’s military-rescue thriller movie, “Tears of the Sun”, portrayed the war in the central African region, in Nigeria. Lt. A.K Waters (Bruce Willis) was assigned to a special mission in Nigeria to save the American doctor, Dr. Lena Kendrick (portrayed by Monica Belluci) and any other Americans in the area and bring them back safely as war is expected to arise anytime. Waters, along with his team, easily located Dr. Kendrick but they had a big problem when the doctor decided not to go with them without bringing her refugees along with her. Lt. Waters thought of agreeing with Lena of bringing along with them the 70 refugees. But it was not Waters was thinking about, he would only use those refugees to get Lena out of the refugee camp.

Even before we pre-empt the story, let us first determine the scenes in the movie which would be best understood from a Utilitarian perspective. As a member of the armed forces, it is Waters’ duty to follow the commands given to him. No matter what—nothing is more important than completing a mission entrusted to you. It is obviously exposing a very strict duty-based ethics which entails no other consequences. Any thing outside the chain of command is considered as less valuable. Only the essential value of the command is recognized in the deontological ethical system.

As the story progresses, Lt. Waters was becoming more concerned with the refugees and decided to make a very crucial decision, that is, to return to the land and rescue the 70 African refugees. As the helicopter was about to cross the island and leave completely, Waters suddenly commanded the pilot to turn around. “Let’s turn it around”, he said. That was just a noble act, doing his mission in exchange of a higher good for the people. Forced by his conscience to disobey orders, Waters and his team race against time to escort the refugees to a border town, in Cameroon, where they will find safe haven before invading troops can attack them. What made Waters change his mind? I guess it is when he saw the situation of the refugee camp left with nothing but dead people and dead environment after the Nigerian rebels attacked.

Even when he was talking with his commander, Waters was very firm with his team’s decision in saving not only more than their mission (Lena), but also the African refugees. He admitted that he broke his own rules, but he was satisfied with his decision. Mission completion was no longer their priority. Instead, reaching Cameroon alive was their target.

If Waters did not do anything but followed the order, I see everything wrong about it. In addition to that, when it was given that Waters have done nothing but what was stated in his mission, everything could have gone worse. More people must have been left and rebels would have killed most of them, brutally. It was a matter of choosing between the call of duty or those things beyond that. The sacrifices made by Waters and his team—by saving Lena, the refugees and Arthur Azuka (the only Azuka left after the rest of the members of the first family were killed by the rebels)—resulted to a greater result. Waters’ conscience guided him to save more than what he was assigned to.
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montañoallan



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PostSubject: Saving Private Ryan and Deontological Ethics   Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:36 am

The movie, “Saving Private Ryan”, is I think one of the best examples that can illustrate the nature and implications of Deontology or duty-based ethics. In brief, it is about how a group of soldiers was given a task to search for Private James Ryan in the middle of the war against the Germans, and take Private Ryan to safety. Private James Ryan, unfortunately, was that time, the only living and surviving among the Ryan brothers that were also in the war. The US government did not want to bring another tragedy to the Ryan family, so they thought that bringing the youngest Ryan safe and alive to their mother back home would somehow ease the pain and the feeling of loss.

However, although the group succeeded in their mission to look for Ryan, they were not able to bring him to safety. James Ryan believed that going back home is not the right thing to do. He knew that his mother would be very sad for the loss of his other brothers, but according to him, his mother would surely understand if he stayed and fight with whom he considered as his remaining brothers – his fellow soldiers. He believed that a soldier, he has to stay and fight no matter what. Ryan became aware later that in the group’s course to save him, they had already lost the lives of their two team mates. Still Ryan was firm in his decision to stay.

During our class discussions, we stated that in deontological ethics, something is right or moral when it is done out of duty.

For the purposes of analysis, I wish to discuss two sides – first, that of Captain Miller’s group and second, that of Private Ryan.

First, using deontological ethics, I can say that Miller’s group has failed in their mission. Their actual mission was to search and save Ryan, but they ended up in staying in that site with the one they are supposed to save. Of course, if they would have only stick to their duty, then there would have been a better chance of survival, not only for Ryan, but for Captain Miller’s group. However, I believe that Miller’s decision to stay is still part of his duty as a soldier to fight in the war. Therefore, I think what Miller did was still justifiable (on the basis of duty-based ethics).

On my second case, regarding Ryan’s side, especially about the conflict stated above (Ryan refused to go back home because it is his duty as a soldier to fight), by deontological ethics, he just did what was right. However, if he only thought of his mother and the lives risk by Miller’s group just to save him, and decided to go back with them, then, his life and a bunch of others would have been saved.

Elaborating Ryan’s case, I believe that apart from doing his duty there is nothing wrong when he refused to save his life. But, I think, in his case, doing his duty would not only mean putting his life in danger, but also putting other lives likewise and wasting the lives and efforts of Miller’s group. At this point, I can say that Ryan being a duty-bound individual thought selfishly and acted actually as not right.

In conclusion, when using deontological ethics in evaluating the two cases above, both would be morally right. However, applying deontology to real-life situations would be a dilemma since individuals are assuming more than one duty. And it is not clear to me how can someone possibly choose among these duties one is assuming.
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PostSubject: Saving Private Ryan   Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:57 am

The heart of the movie is the question of the morality or ethics of the mission reflected in the title. Sending a squad of eight men into harm's way, wherein two of died in the search and four more in the final battle, to rescue one man and pull him out of harm's way. At one point, the main character, Captain Miller, played by Tom Hanks, tells his sergeant that Ryan had better do something great, such as finding a cure for cancer, to justify the loss of the men in Miller's squad. Miller dies in the final battle and his last words to Private Ryan (played by Matt Damon) are "earn this." At the end of the movie, we see Ryan visiting Miller's grave at Omaha Beach 50 years later--Ryan is married, has several children and grandchildren, and his wife confirms that he has been a "good man" in his life. Of course, we do not know what it means to be a good man. Ryan lead the sort of "ordinary" good life of many WW II veterans in the mid- and late-20th century--he probably went to college, had a career in some undisclosed profession, raised a family, and enjoyed a life of middle- or upper-middle class comfort.

It is obvious that film shows us ethics in a deontological perspective. The whole story revolves around the fulfillment of each of the characters’ duty: Miller and his squad securing and dispatching Ryan home, and Ryan defending the bridge from a German counterattack. The squadron then argues if one man’s life is more valuable than another’s, and if Ryan deserves to go home any more than anybody else. As they have said in the movie, they were searching for a needle among a stack of needles. This simply implies that Ryan is just the same as everybody else in the battlefield. So, did Ryan "earn this"? He never could earn it, simply because the sacrifice (exposing eight men to danger and losing six men to save one) is too unequal, especially when all are soldiers who have taken on the task of fighting and facing death. As we all know in the movie, the rescue operation was triggered by letters received by Ryan’s mother informing of his brothers’ deaths all on the same day, but how about the mothers of the rest of the soldiers in the battlefield? And the mothers of those in Miller’s squadron who died searching and rescuing Ryan? Therefore, I believe that the decision made by Miller and his crew to pursue their mission is not justifiable.

Performance of duties in the deontological approach sure is morally good, but the duties given to the soldiers, I believe, are from human beings also, thus, these orders are not free from errors. And if the nature of these orders are then full of errors, isn’t it immoral to perform these orders? But if we were to change the film and make Miller and his squadron abandon their mission, they are guilty of disobeying orders which may result to the death of Ryan, and they may also be branded as traitors. In the deontological approach, this would appear to be immoral. But on the other hand, this could also mean the salvation of Miller’s squadron, and the preservation their being sons and fathers and brothers to those whom they have left behind.
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Estipona [J]



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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:07 am

The movie "Tears of the Sun" best illustrates the workings of both of the given philosophical perspectives. While it is true that only one perspective emerged out in the middle of the plot resolution, we should also take notice of the fact that both ideas had at least a minimum exposure in the film.

The story itself started out from a Deontological perspective. As with all war movies, the concept of soldier is clearly defined here.: One who must abide by given rules by adhering to a strict code of discipline. Any military man would give you a straightforward answer that the price of a soldier disobeying his superior's command would result in anarchy in the ranks, or in the worst case scenario, death. Lt. A.K. Walters (Bruce Willis) was an example of this kind of philosophy, as illustrated by the earliest scenes he had with the lady doctor in the war-torn mission. When Dr. Kendricks thanks him for saving her life, he simply says, "I'm not here to save your life, its my duty." Here we see that he views the entire situation as something that he must fulfill because of obligation, and not because of personal interest. The sacrifice of human life was for him, a necessary thing to ensure the success of his mission. This is further explored during the events leading up to the first EVAC point, where he opted to leave the refugees behind while taking the doctor in the helicopter.

However, this is where this story shifted to a more utilitarian perspective, as Lt. Walters viewed firsthand the massacre of the entire mission that he vacated shortly after their helicopter flew off. His human conscience took over, and he prompted the evac helicopter to return and lift all the children and some women instead of their team. By doing so, he violated his standing order and took it upon himself to save the remaining survivors. In his own words in the movie, "I broke my own rule. I started to give a fuck..." Supposedly, a duty-bound person must be willing to sacrifice his own desires to achieve the goal of that which he is bound to. Clearly, by disobeying the rule of his mission, he was now pursuing what he thinks is right, or in a lesser sense, what he wants to do. This line of thinking precipitated various actions from that point on., an example given would be their groups assault on another village being "purged" by the rebels. They had an option in which they could have avoided contact with the enemy by circling around, but instead they chose to infiltrate and kill the enemy. By doing so, they added yet another means of justifying their actions, in the form of the village's aftermath. Bodies piled up, people being burnt, tortured, and raped: by this point the reason for their battle merged into their own desire to confront the enemy by their own will. It is at that point wherein we can see the manifestations of utilitarianism in the movie, where the soldiers' self-interest to defend the villagers replaced duty as their motivation. And I quote one soldier, "I can't look at 'em like packages anymore. I'm gonna get 'em out or I'm gonna die tryin'"

If we were to look at both sides of the situation, we can see that both decision could have been justified from either point of view. If he had indeed left the refugees behind, then that would have been "morally" correct in the context of his duty as a military personnel. However, he chose to pursue the human aspect of his personality, whose value system apparently held human life in high esteem. Therefore, his conscience could not bear it that they were to simply leave the people to die in the jungle. This was where the line between good and right became blurred. The good to do would have been to follow orders, but the right thing to do had become something more of a relative matter. In that sense, his actions were to some extent, justified. Apart from that, the fact that he saved more than he was requried to do was an affirmation that his choice was sound, as implied in the idea, the end justifies the means. The movie's tagline would be an example of the merge between these two ideals: He was trained to follow orders. He became a hero by defying them
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Cabral, D.R.



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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Thu Jan 15, 2009 11:48 am

While the movie “Tears of the Sun” may have highlighted the drama found in all battlefields, it more than emphasized the continuous struggle that simmers within any individual. It is not through guns or bullets are we mostly brought to a crossroad, but through our judgment of right and wrong, through our personal conviction of what is called for by the presenting circumstance, and ultimately, through the crossfire between “duty” and “end” we usually find ourselves caught up in.

At first, Dr. Hendricks and Lt. Waters were right on the same page of the oaths they took: to preserve- and even cease- life. The lieutenant sought to be straight and true to the American flag, by following his captain who awarded him his well- deserved badge for being the good soldier who obeyed orders from the higher-ups. On the other hand, the doctor wanted to win Hippocrates’ praise by mending battered bodies and by ensuring that the welfare of a people needing more than medical help is taken care of. The doctor and the soldier took their individual stands valiantly, in that somewhere along that line, one was “forced” to give in to the passion of the other. Lt. Waters deontology- driven desire to bring the doctor to safety has been overshadowed by his teleological instinct to save more than a single soul at a pricey cost he was willing to pay (that is, to make his team and himself flirt with death, w/ the prospect of saving not only a doctor but bringing deliverance to a scared, abused and dying bunch), at the same time reinforcing Dr. Hendricks’ strong grip to her deontological roots as a doctor (who is a sworn keeper of life) and the consequentialist desire in her to heal, restore and protect ailing individuals as she possibly could. This being said, the lieutenant’s actions mirrored a teleological stance of pursuing greater potential benefits that come with the detachment from the confines of duty. The initial goal of securing and safeguarding the doctor as dictated by military protocol has been replaced by the lieutenant’s resolve to impose neither his will nor his captain’s over the desire of the doctor to stay with her patients, in addition to his human tendency to be responsible and accountable for the life of another whom we could possibly save. The doctor, in her part, stood by the creed of her profession, with the consequence of saving lives put in mind (a deontological-consequentialist of some sort she is). I for one believe that the courses of action taken by the protagonists were justified, and if not, were actually the best thing to do. In the event that the soldier stuck to his calling, he may have lived being in the good graces of his captain and his success could have merited him a new star or stripe. However, he would be forever enslaved by the memory of the people he indirectly dealt a merciless,violent death, and may have earned the lifelong scorn and disgust of a human being to whom his will he had imposed upon. Had the doctor succumbed to the will of another person, she would lose the confidence she had for what she stood for, and would be equally miserable upon remembering the faces that have become familiar whom she had left behind.

The rules of engagement have been breached by Lt. Waters as he elected to assemble his troops for an attack against the rebels who have come to lay waste to a settlement. He defied all reason and logic in all his military sense, and has appealed to his comrades in the compelling force to rescue a hapless person from the hands of a tyrant. He had gone beyond the acceptable conduct necessitated by his duty, and had sought to break free from the constraints of his orders to pursue a greater good.

Another interesting event in the story is how the lieutenant and his team have come to discover a traitor in their midst. The culprit has been identified, and the interrogation revealed that that person is fearful of the fate of his family, that’s why he had done such act worthy of ostracism from his fellows. Deontologically speaking, he served the responsibilities and duties prescribed as a member of a family (that is, to look after the needs and interests of the family as a whole), but has done something to the detriment of the community of which he is part. We see here an individual exhibiting the “pleasures” he needed to satisfy, and in the end, chose to seek that one he valued more (the welfare of his family over the safety of the community, and the heir to the throne). What is shown to us is that a person may be duty- bound, but has in his mind perceived consequences as a function of fulfilling his duties. These consequences he had weighed in terms of what would bring him the most pleasure, and must choose which gives him more when two contrasting possibilities are presented. The ill-fated bearer of the bug lived not too long enough to see if he had an equitable return for his sacrifice (if ever his family had been spared from the massacre and carnage), but was just in time to realize that what he did had done no good to his fellowmen. Also, the lieutenant’s order to shoot the fugitive somewhat shows us another deontology-consequentialism chain. Under his superior’s command, a soldier may be forced to execute an individual if that person is deemed harmful to the greater interest of the group, and this Lt. Waters dispensed so as to protect not only his troop, but also the community he chose to bring in as his cargo. As he gave the license to take down then “enemy”, he fulfilled his duty as a soldier, and at the same time, brought them a desired end of having themselves freed from the seal of doom.

To argue whether the actions of the protagonists are deontological or teleological makes us forget that whatever side we take, the pursuit of the “good” is always the desired end. While it may be difficult to make clear- cut boundaries in regard to the nature of the actions carried out in general, it must be kept in mind that they serve, somehow, in some way, to bring “good”.
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Azarraga



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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:51 pm

There are scenes from the Tears of the Sun that perfectly illustrates the deontological ethical theory.

The mission of Lt. Waters to rescue Dr. Kendricks and the nuns and priest from the Catholic Mission is strict. And being in a military line of work, obeying the chain of command is their core obligation.
However, the situation was complicated when Dr. Kendricks refused to go with the Waters unless the other refugees are rescued too. Waters, just to appease Dr. Kendricks said it was okay, although it was not really his intention to do so.
The turning point of the movie was when Dr Kendricks, upon knowing what Lt. Waters planned tried to argue against it, but to no avail. The helicopters were already leaving when Lt. Waters decided that they can't just abandon the refugees. This is where the idea of Kant's "good will" enters. Although it is Lt. Waters duty to obey his officer's orders, he followed that good will and went against it. He put his life and his men to risk and disobeyed his orders to follow that good will - the duty that he has to humanity specifically those of the refugees they were about to abandon.

If Lt. Waters decided to just execute his mission therefore abandoning the refugees, he still would have done the wrong thing. First, he wouldn't find out that the son of the assassinated president was still alive, therefore, creating bigger problems for the country of Nigeria being deprived of a legitimate leader and allowing the military dictatorship to rule. Second, he would bear the burden of 70 lives of the refugees who would be killed if he abandoned them. He would put 70 lives into danger and even hundred more in the long run. And I think that is wrong. It is still our duty to protect lives regardless of race. And Lt. Waters' action of doing such states how he acted upon his duty to humanity not just his duty to the chain of command.
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PostSubject: SavingPrivate Ryan's Deontological Perspective   Thu Jan 15, 2009 5:59 pm

Saving Private Ryan is a film best seen at a deontological perspective given their nature of job as
soldiers of war. Being in this profession or being sent in war particularly, demands a lot of moral decisions within you. There is this moral dilemma whether is it really right and justifiable to kill or only kill for the sake of killing because it is what is expected of you to do. However, it is important that we contextualize the situation - that is you are in a war therefore it is part of your duty to kill your enemies. Killing in this sense, I think is morally justifiable.

I shall identify three of the scenes where duty overruled the consequences it may produce or even the price it has to pay. The first one would be the battle in Ohama Beach. From the moment they landed ashore and were continuously gun fired by the enemy losing many casualties, Tom Hanks already ordered his other men that they leave behind those who will eventually die since they will only be a burden and be of no use. Choosing that he saves them will only cause him greater lives of his soldiers if they will not proceed at once. Another would be the carrying out of the duty itself to save Private Ryan. There was this moment in the meadow where one of Hank’s soldiers was questioning him on the mathematics of sacrificing eight lives for the life of one. Deontologically, soldiers are deprived of a choice except to obey the command given to them without second-thought. He’s answer that there mission has an extremely valuable objective and is worth of their efforts and lives for the bereaved mother who has already lost three of his sons justified their mission. It seems that being soldiers makes no room for protest and backing-out but to strictly stick to the order. The last scene would be the choice of Private Ryan not to come back with their troop even though they have already lost two of their men trying to get him back alive. It was such a heroic deed of Ryan choosing not to abandon his comrades even with the risk of him dying and losing his mother the only son left. Again, it was duty that made him decide. It was his commitment that he stays with the rest of his troop and fight the war. Yes, it was not easy on his part but having decided to join the war automatically entails him of laying his life for the country and understand that any moment he can die in the battlefield regardless of the people he is to leave behind. But maybe it was not only duty that made him not to go home but selflessness - selflessness that as much as he does, without any special attention, all of the others deserve to go home to their respective families.

In a world where there is war, duty always comes first. It is not the right choice to give in to your conscience or let pity over your men or enemies supersede you because in doing so, you will lose the battle. Accept to yourself that you are in a situation of life and death and that your only goal is to win it no matter what it takes.
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De Vera, Rosemarie



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PostSubject: On the film "Saving Private Ryan"   Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:05 pm

The act of saving Private Ryan itself is best understood from a deontological perspective because it is the order from the General to the group of Captain Miller, or the duty assigned to them. In the middle of the war, Captain Miller, with the seven soldiers under his command, were given the order to “save” or bring Private James Francis Ryan back home to his mother for the reason that all three of his brothers already died in the war and he was the only one left, believing that he was still alive. It was thought that there was no greater grief than a mother’s grief of having all of his sons killed in the war, as expressed in Abraham Lincoln’s letter to a woman who have her sons being killed also, so the military made immediate action to save her last living son. Because this command was directly from the officer in the top position, it should definitely be followed; even it would cost the lives of Captain Miller’s and his group.

It may seem unjustifiable because, who is Ryan anyway for them to save, to think that he was not different from other soldiers who also lost their loved ones in the war? Is he worthy enough to save in expense of eight lives? Is it reasonable to take him out of the war considering that it is their war, that every male citizen in the right age to fight is expected to participate and risk their lives? Why should Ryan be exempted from being killed? However, it was the order to them. They should do it. As part of the military, it is just right to do the order of an officer higher than one’s position. From a deontological perspective, it is proper to do it because it is their “duty” and doing your duty is “good.” In addition, being in a war, some do not recognize personal rights, but in the United States with its history of individualism, the rights of groups and individuals are recognized. And in this film, this “right” was applied. Also, saving Private Ryan may be considered as a “binding” rule, which should almost always be followed, unless there are unusual circumstances or this command or order was lifted.

In doing otherwise, some would agree because nominally, eight lives are greater than just one, that the greater number of people should be saved. But in so doing, it would break the command which definitely is wrong within the military. Even if majority believes in doing what is best for the most umber of people, we should also consider that situations differ in context or societies, and that there is no absolute rule for all. And in this case, the US recognized individual rights; moreover, the orders should be followed being in the army.
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Catindig, TJJFP



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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:12 pm

In the movie “Tears of the Sun”, Bruce Willis leads an 8-man squad on a mission to rescue American nationals caught in-between the crossfire of an African nation’s civil war. In the beginning and early part of the movie, a deontological view is presented within the movie as the squad, fresh from one harrowing mission, is immediately assigned another one by their superior officer Bill. In the briefing, they are told not to engage unless fired upon, further isolating themselves from the situation.

As it is a military mission, the dedication to duty is of extreme importance on the battlefield and may be the only thing to save men’s lives in some cases. Up to a certain point in the film, Lt. Walters obeys his commands to the letter, even lying to Dr. Lena Kendricks about helping her people escape. However, upon seeing the barbarity of the defenders does his mind start to change.

One scene with philosophical implications is when the group stumbles across another village getting ransacked by rebel troops. Lt. Walters, acting from a teleological perspective, decides to save what remains of the village and its inhabitants. Throughout this ordeal, he and his team come into first-hand contact with the rebels and see them kill defenseless civilians, mutilate the breasts of a new mother, rape, and such. It dawns upon the team that they must choose whether to act (not just take a stand) on their purpose or goal of saving not just Lena, but the also the rest of the civilian group (which includes the sole survivor of the presidential family) or to deliver the “package”, as ordered by the chain-of-command.

When Lt. Walters talks to his squad, he gives them each a chance to speak freely. Most vote to carry on with their new mission to save the civilians. They have officially replaced their duty-bound mission with what they think is right; a shift from deontological thinking to teleological thinking. One soldier even voices it out clearly: “Those Africans are my people too. For all the years we were told to stand down and stand by, you’re doing the right thing”. The lieutenant replies, “For our sins”

To do the good thing, all Lt. Walters and his squad had to accomplish was their pre-planned mission. It was what they were trained to do, follow orders. It also would have “morally” correct as military person and no one would fault them (except perhaps Dr. Kendericks) if they continued on this road. On the other hand, to do the right thing, they would have to risk their lives to protect the civilians until the group could get to the border. The lines between right and good blurred, but nevertheless, Lt. Walters pulled through with his decision, accomplishing more than his original mission and saving the people. Though it came at a grave cost (four of his squad lay dead in the field while the rest, including him have been shot at least once), their defiance of standing orders made them into real heroes.
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israel barrios



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PostSubject: Saving Private Ryan   Thu Jan 15, 2009 8:30 pm

The film Saving Private Ryan is one of the best war movies that has ever been made. It reached its audiences not only because of how good the scenes were shot, but because of the story itself. According to critics, it is the best "anti-war" war movie up to this time. The story took place in France during the Second World War. Basically, after losing three of her sons (all of which were soldiers) in the war, Mrs. Ryan wrote a letter to the military officials requesting for her fourth son to be sent home. A squad of American rangers, after successfully landing in Normandy, were given the task of finding Private Ryan. They did find Ryan, but at the expense of six out of the eight squad members including the squad leader Captain Miller.

Here are some of the deontological scenes that I saw in the movie:

1.) Eight men risking their lives for the sake of one.

-Why should eight men consisting of a captain, a sergeant, a corporal, a medic, and four privates, risk their lives to bring home a single soldier with the rank of a private? All of them might be killed during the search. Ryan may already have been dead as well and their time would be wasted etc. If you look at the consequences, it really sounds silly. But there is a saying in the military that goes: "Obey First, Ask Questions Later". So from a deontological point of view, the act of searching for Ryan is good in itself because it is the duty of the soldiers to follow their orders (Duty-ethics). Is it justifiable? Yes! They were given orders and they should follow it. If they do the opposite, they would be subjected to a court martial for insubordination. Or if their officers are kind enough not to report their disobedience, then they spare themselves from being killed in the search for Ryan, but not in fighting the series of battles that they would all be assigned to in the Allied push towards Germany.

2.) They let the captured German soldier in the damaged radar site go.

-When they attacked the "ALREADY DAMAGED radar site (A very silly decision on the part of Capt. Miller)" on which Medic Wade was killed in action, they captured a German soldier. The squad members are arguing whether to free the soldier or not. Some say that they shouldn't because the soldier might be the one who shot Wade. Another suggested to just kill the German instead. And another wants the soldier to be freed. In the end, the German soldier was blindfolded and then released. If we think of the consequences, France at that time is still a German-occupied territory. The possibility of the released German being picked up by other German troops, is much larger than an American Ranger Jeep patrol spotting him along the way. If the other Germans manage to pick up the released German, the latter would just be equipped and would be ready for battle once again. But this is from a consequentialist perspective.

From a deontological perspective, the act of releasing the captured German soldier is good in itself. Even in time of war, it is immoral to shoot an enemy who has already surrendered, otherwise it would be a war crime. It is justifiable. If your squad captures a dozens of prisoners, it is only proper to keep them (keep not kill) and wait for friendlies to pick them up. But! if you only have one prisoner, and you can't afford to wait for friendly forces to pick him up because you are in the middle of a mission to find someone, and carrying a prisoner with you would just be a burden, and yet war ethics forbid you to shoot him, what else would you do right? Just let him go. It is the right thing to do regardless of the consequence of him fighting again if picked up by other Germans.

3.) The decision to defend the town.

-The squad found Ryan in a grass field and learned that the private, along with several soldiers, have been guarding a nearby town from a possible German attack. Private Ryan refuses to leave the soldiers guarding the town- the people which he considers as his only brothers left. So Captain Miller decides to help them defend the town so that Private Ryan could go home after the battle. This is another risky decision on the part of Captain Miller especially after the death of Medic Wade because of the unnecessary attack on the radar site. They already have Ryan and they could just simply bring him home. But now the captain is risking the whole squad and the life of Private Ryan as well!

Is the act of defending the town good or not? From a utilitarian point of view, it is good. Private Ryan survived and they managed to delay the Germans long enough for American reinforcements to arrive. The good outcome justifies the act. If ever the whole squad has been wiped out, the town captured by the Germans, and Private Ryan died, obviously the act is not good because the consequence is not.

But from a deontological point of view, is the act in itself good? Definitely yes! The soldiers in the town are poorly equipped against a numerically superior enemy supported by tanks. Their only way of maximizing their firepower is to place them in strategic locations. But the soldiers didn't have a competent officer to lead them. Obviously, Capt. Miller could organize them, and the other squad members especially the sniper, would be of big help!

As I have mentioned earlier, soldiers have a duty to fulfill. The squad was ordered to find Ryan and bring him home. As soldiers, it is their duty to follow. But it doesn't necessarily mean that if you are given a mission, you won't do anything else other than that. That's what separates human soldiers from robots- common sense. The mission is to protect Ryan. So it is their duty to protect him. But as soldiers, it is also their duty to defend and secure their territories. And between these two duties, I think securing the town is far more important. Saving Ryan is just a special mission. Had the high-ranking officers that sent Miller's squad learn of the poor situation of the town in the midst of a possible attack, I'm a hundred percent sure that they would have ordered Capt. Miller and his squad to stay and help defend the town until reinforcements arrive because certainly the town would need every combat-capable soldier available to survive. So despite the consequences of having Ryan and the squad being killed, the act of defending the town is good in itself.
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Mercado



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PostSubject: movie review   Thu Jan 15, 2009 9:03 pm

Morality in Uniform
(Tears of the Sun, 2003)

The mission is to extract a critical personality a-sap Dr. Lena Fiore Kendricks (Monica Bellucci), an American national by marriage. The second objective is to extract a priest and two nuns if they choose to do so. Nevertheless, during the rescue and evacuation operation in Nigeria, the navy SEAL officers faced a common and prime moral dilemma of rescuing the refugees in the different periods. The difference remains to be the philosophy of the actions and the decisions.

Dr. Lena Kendricks demanded to include her people – a total of 28 refugees in the rescue operation. To follow the chain of command, Lt. A. K. Walters resorted to deception in a sham ploy to complete the mission: allowing the refugees to evacuate with them, only to leave them behind afterwards. The fundamental premise of this action reflects and reveals duty-based ethics; expressed by Lt. Walters in saying: “It wasn’t about saving your life. It’s getting the job done…completing the mission. That’s all.” Officers follow the code of conduct and abide rules and commands without questions or doubt. In the military, logic and maybe even, morality is governed by mark of allegiance and sense of hierarchy; hence, imposed by authority. Therefore, actions to ensure the completion of the mission are morally good and acceptable. Sometimes actions in the pursuit of duty like sacrifice of lives are even morally obligatory. Hence, from a duty-based ethics approach leaving the refugees behind was morally permissible.

However, the team as navy officers and as humans faced the dual and conflicting options: to complete the mission and leave behind the excess packages or to aid and save the Ibo tribal heir, Arthur Azuka and the other refugees. In the end, the navy SEAL team chose not to obey the rules of engagement and the command of discarding the “excess packages”. Instead of returning to U.S. base, the navy SEAL officers returned to the L2 point Alpha for the indigent Nigerians. Women and child refugees were lifted to safety. The rules of engagement states that defend if fired upon, otherwise do not engage. Instead of following this order, the team engaged in a conventional war against the Fulani guerilla rebels in their trail. Thus, the consequence of their choice lies in the endangerment of the success of the operation and the lives of the officers and the refugees. But the option to protect the other refuges takes an overriding priority over completing the mission immediately.

Philosophy shifted and changed when the officers saw the destruction caused by the military coup: shifting from Deontological to Teleological Ethical System. In the Teological or Utilitarian Ethical System, an act is good if it promotes and leads to the greatest overall human welfare.

If the team did not aid the Nigerian refugees from escaping from the, then the line of leadership of the Ibo tribe will come to a tragic end. Eventually, there are different philosophical reasons leading to decision toward a common end of rescue and survival of a greater number of people for the welfare of the Nigerians. Pragmatism of Navy Seal officer Lieutenant A.K. Waters – combining of the strict rules of the military with the dynamic events of the war – led to doing both his duty and the right thing.


Last edited by Mercado on Thu Jan 15, 2009 10:06 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Salinas



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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:48 am

Saving Private Ryan is an epic movie that depicts the Second World War. Looking beyond the scenes and drama of the film, we could analyze the movie by incorporating ethical theories that would explain the actions of the characters given certain circumstances. Since the theme of the film involves duties that need to be executed, it is proper to analyze several scenes using Deontology—the duty-based ethics.
One of the scenes that need to be scrutinized is when Captain John Miller, together with seven soldiers, was given the task to find and bring Private Francis Ryan back home. Despite possibilities of being killed in their search and rescue mission, the soldiers accepted the task. Using the deontologist point of view, I would say that the actions of the eight soldiers are justifiable or morally right since following their duty—to save and bring Private Ryan back to his home— is good in itself. However, looking closely to the duty-based ethics of Kant, it could be seen that such action is not justifiable. Why? According to Kant, a duty is justifiable or morally right if it is acceptable and applicable to everyone and that it can be universalized, thus, it should pass the Universality test. Applying the Universality test of Kant, I think it is not acceptable for everyone to sacrifice and risk the lives of eight well-trained and expert soldiers just to save the life of one; and given the context of the movie which is in war, it is never tolerable to risk the life of a sniper, a medic, a captain, and the others just to save the life of a private whose existence is unsure (whether he is still alive or not.)
Another scene that I pay to consider is when the group of Captain Miller captured a German in the radar site, the scene where the medic was killed in action during their encounter against the Germans. It is depicted on this scene that Captain Miller ordered his men not to kill the captured German despite the agony Germans had caused on the death of their comrade. Though frustrating, Captain Miller’s ordering his men not to kill the German is justifiable, according to duty-based ethics. If I am not mistaken, one of the conducts of military is not to kill an enemy that has already surrendered. Hence, what the Captain did is just following their task or duty as soldiers.
In addition, when Captain Miller had already found Private Ryan, wherein the latter refused to go home with the former together with Miller’s remaining soldiers, also involves deontological perspectives. Private Ryan declined the idea of leaving his post and his comrades, and such action is justifiable adopting the duty-based ethics. Given the fact that Private Ryan will be in no danger if he will go home, he still insisted to stay just to execute his duty—to secure the bridge and protect the town from the German oppressors. Deontologists would say that such action is justified and morally right since it obey the rules of deontology—acting out of duty. Consequently, the decision of Captain Miller to stay with Private Ryan is morally right. Though Private Ryan refused to come/ go home with them, the group of Captain did not leave him (since their duty is to save and bring him back to his home); hence, the act is morally right.
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PostSubject: Utilitarianism in Tears of the Sun   Fri Jan 16, 2009 2:49 am

I believe that utilitarianism can be seen in the part of the movie wherein the helicopter and Lieutenant Waters and his team of NAVY SEALs pass over their mission and discover that the mission has been raided and destroyed just like what Dr. Kendricks had expected. Lt. Waters, feeling a deep conviction, instructed the helicopter to turn around and reform with the refugees. The SEALs decide on the spot to escort the refugees to the Cameroon border. Even though Lt. Waters knew that his action will threaten the accomplishment of their mission and will risk the lives of his teammates, he still did what he thought was the right thing to do by that time which is escorting the refugees. This scene shows the principle of utilitarianism that an action is right if it tends to promote happiness and wrong if it tends to produce the reverse of happiness-not just the happiness of the performer of the action but also that of everyone affected by it. In Lt. Waters action, it is quite obvious that he disregarded their mission, which is merely for their own “happiness”, and thought of helping the refugees. Also, Lt. Waters action is in accordance with utilitarian principle and is in opposition to egoism which is the view that a person should pursue his own self-interest, even at the expense of others. I believe that Lt. Waters used the hedonic calculus of Bentham and Mill and analyzed happiness as a balance of pleasure over pain. He then compared the intrinsic values produced by two alternative actions (in this case, finishing the mission and leaving the refugees or turning back and escorting the refugees-which would result to the possibility that the rebels will eventually find and kill them) and estimated which would have better consequences. The decision made by Lt. Waters promotes a favorable balance of pleasure over pain because saving the lives of the refugees is pleasurable than finishing the mission and risking the lives of his teammates. This means that Lt. Waters chose the action which would favor the good of the many and not just their own good.

In addition, utilitarianism is also exhibited in the part where the SEALs encounter a small village that is in the process of being wiped out by rebel soldiers. I believe that because Lt. Waters realized that they have an opportunity to stop it, even though they would violate the rules of engagement, he still instructed the refugees to remain on the high ground while his team assaults the village. It is good to note that during the aftermath of the assault, the SEAL team becomes morally conscious after seeing the after-effects of the atrocities. This means that they were certain that what they have done and what they are doing are the right things to do because these are for the benefit of the refugees. Lt. Waters disregarded his interest and the interests of his teammates so that they could rescue a mass number of refugees.

I believe that the acts and decisions made by Lt. Waters and his team are justifiable. This is because they unanimously continue to escort the refugees no matter what the cost it (even risking their own lives) as long as they can save them from the rebels. I also believe that in times of violent coup like this, the lives of the people involved are of great priority and pursuing self-interest is the worst course of action. What Lt. Waters and his team did was the better option and, I strongly believe, has brought better consequences.

In doing otherwise, like what is mentioned, the result would have been egoism. If Lt. Waters and his team chose to leave the refugees, it would have resulted to deaths of the refugees. I believe that even though soldiers have the duty to follow orders and missions, their happiness is still at stake when the situation changes. This means that if faced with situations like what happened in the movie, it would be wrong to let others die if someone has the opportunity to stop it.
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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:07 am

Saving Private Ryan...General Marshall discovers that three of the four Ryan brothers have all died from the battle. He then gave an order to Captain John Miller to find the fourth of the Ryan brothers, Private James Francis Ryan.

Deontology, as stated in wikipedia, is an approach to ethics that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of intentions or motives behind actions, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions. It is sometimes referred to as duty or obligation based ethics.

Given such definition, deontology is easier to use in justifying the acts and decisions presented in the movie, Saving Private Ryan.

“Is it justifiable to risk the lives of eight people to save the life of one?” Using a deontologist’s point of view, yes. It is the duty of Captain Miller and the other soldiers to obey their duties whatever the consequences are. Captain Miller accepted the order to do what is expected of him without considering the fact that risking his life might mean not seeing his wife again. Such act then is morally acceptable and justifiable using deontology.

When Captain Miller and his men found Private Ryan, told him about that his brothers died during the mission, and that they were given an order to take him home, Private Ryan turned down the order – another scene that is morally justifiable in deontological ethics. Private Ryan chose to stay because he knew that it is his duty to continue and pursue his obligation as an officer. Captain Miller, on the other hand, stayed at the site with Private Ryan to defend the bridge from German attacks.

In doing the other way, I for one, would still consider the lives of eight men over Private Ryan’s. However, doing so would be against the rules and duties of being a soldier. Thus, we should consider that not all rules apply to all situations because there would always be differences in circumstances within societies.
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PostSubject: Tears of the Sun   Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:05 am

Tears of the Sun tells about the story of how Lt. Waters tried to do his mission to save Dr. Kendriks from war torn Africa. The story is evolving in a Deontological view which is a duty based ethics. Lt. Waters' plan was to save only Dr. Kendriks because that was what his mission stated, but change of plans happened when the beautiful doctor refused to go with Lt. Waters unless she brings with her the people whom she is taking care of. Lt. Waters agreed to Dr. Kendriks wish, but the truth was he was just using the towns people to get Dr.Kendriks to go with him and his troops.
Lt. Waters was focused only on his mission not thinking about what will happen to the people left behind.

When they were finally in the helicopter Lt. Waters saw below what had happened to the place that they left, the people there were massacred. This caused Lt. Waters to ask the pilot to turn around. They did turn around and had a change of plans. As a military officer it was Lt. Waters responsibilty to save lives and because of that he chose to save even the lives of the towns people. His duty based ethics was also shown when Lt.Waters, his troop, Dr.Kendriks and the towns people reached another town where they saw how brutally the people were killed by the rebel soldiers. In this scene deontological view shifted to teleological view because according to the teleological view an act is good because of what it can do. Lt.Waters and his troop were not involve in the ongoing war in Africa and they were disobeying the rules of engagement. But inspite of this they still pursued on saving the lives of the people in the town. Although they disobeyed the rules of engagement, it brought good because they save lives of people.

Lt. Waters acted upon the urge of his conscience which showed a teleological view on ethics but under his will to save the lives of the many is his sole objective which is to bring Dr.Kendriks back to America

The acts done by Lt. Waters can be justifide as deontological because he acted based on his duty as a military officer
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PostSubject: TEARS OF THE SUN   Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:27 am

Honestly, I thought the movie would just bore me. Razz Seeing the CD cover, knowing that it is a war movie, I initially thought it would just be about guns, guns, and brutality. But what got me interested into ‘really’ watching it was that bit by bit, it came to me that the war, or wars, depicted in the movie were not just limited to the typical battle we see in films like this – government vs. rebels; but rather, the war here can also refer to the inner struggles the characters of the movie have had, which for me, were even greater.

In this movie, “Tears of the Sun”, 8 Navy Seals were ordered to rescue a Doctor, a priest, and two nuns, who run a missionary work in the war-stricken Nigeria. Since those people are not citizens of the latter, technically, they should not be involved in the war. The problem starts when Dr. Kendricks refused to leave until the unit agrees to escort the refugees she is taking care of, to a safe place as well. This was temporarily settled with a condition – only those that are able to walk by themselves can go. This may seem unfair since not everyone is given equal chances to escape. But in utilitarianism, this may be permissible. Those who cannot walk by themselves would have others carry them, thus, slowing down the whole group and making them more vulnerable to ambush attacks. Also, the group’s escape route is within the forests. Those who have been severely injured might not survive the journey itself. So to increase the chances of survival, such measures are employed.

To complete his mission, Lieutenant A.K. Waters tricks Dr. Kendricks by allowing some of the refugees to come along to the rescue location, then leaving them behind at the very last minute. From a deontological perspective, Lieutenant Waters might be commended for completing his mission in spite and despite of all the hindrances. But that’s only his duty as a soldier. He gave his word to Dr. Kendricks that he would secure the safety of those people, too. Isn’t it his personal duty as well, to keep his promises?

It is interesting to note that aside from the 8 soldiers, those refugees themselves risked their lives for their duties, too. The priest and the nuns stayed; Dr. Kendricks, no matter how annoying she is when she goes hysterical, would not want to leave without the people she vowed to take care of, and even the rest of the civilians, whose duty is to live for their families, are much evident.

When the unit came back for the others, it was a direct challenge posted against their commanding officer’s orders. Hence, they were not immediately given the backup transportation they needed. But to Waters, he may be disobeying the direct instructions now, but in truth, as dedicated soldiers, they just wanted to see the mission through to the end.

Soon after, they discover that among the refugees is Arthur, the son of the late tribal king. Due to critical circumstances, Captain Bill Rhodes refer to him then as “excess cargo” that they should get rid of, which Waters defended by answering, “does that mean he’s not human, sir?”

Seeing that Arthur is the heir to the throne, and may be the only hope for ALL of Nigeria, the Eight Navy Seals engaged into battle to protect him and his people. I think this, more than any other part of the movie, best shows what the concept of Utilitarianism tells – to achieve the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.
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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:31 am

The movie Tears of the Sun, was a war movie which did not only show the harsh realities of life such as dictatorship, poverty and the continuous disregard for human life but also on how it is not through sabotaging these cruelties can we attain better living, we can attain this by deciding which duties we should follow and stick to, basing it on what we perceive as what would give us the highest level of pleasures and greater good for all.

I’m saying this for I believe that the important, notable scenes in the movie could be depicted by both the Utilitarian perspective – which believes that the ends justify the means, giving emphasis on how it is on the consequences of an action can one determine whether an action is morally worthy or not – and of the Deontological perspective – which gives importance to intention or the motive lying beneath every action when discerning whether an act is morally worthy.

The first important scene is on how Dr. Lena wanted to bring along her Nigerian friends with her when Lieutenant Waters wanted to take her away so as to save her from the rebels whose intentions were to break in into their camp and kill innocent people. We could see this behavior as utilitarian-based for Dr. Lena wanted to bring along these Nigerian people for the sole reason that she believes that bringing along all these people, saving them from the possible harm they would experience from the rebels when they reach the camp, is what constitutes the “greatest good for the greatest number of people” principle, that though this action might bring harm not only to herself but also to Lt. Waters and his men, she still insisted on this thus it is no longer important for her that she together with Lt. Waters and his men have a safe journey home, what’s important for her is that she may be able to save her Nigerian friends (ends) even if it means danger or death to Lt. Waters and his men or even to herself (means). This could also be seen from a deontological perspective for Dr. Lena insisted or rather suggested this alternative for she is thinking of her duty as a doctor, a person…that she should not leave these people behind, that she should not render them from her medical prowess, that she should not as a person, a christian leave them just like that knowing that they would be harmed by rebels sooner or later. In turn, this action becomes non-consequentialist for bringing along all these people might greatly decrease all their chances for survival, still, it did not matter to her that they may all die due to this, as long as her intentions, her beliefs, her duty as a doctor, christian and person be done and fulfilled.

The next important scene is again related to Dr. Lena. This was the part wherein it was finally discovered that the son of the president of Nigeria, the next tribal leader is journeying along with them. From a utilitarian perspective, the principle that “the ends justify the means” best analyzes this situation or this behavior. Dr. Lena, lied straight-face to Lt. Waters about the president’s son, only thinking that this man needs to be saved, regardless of the fact that they would be followed by the rebels thus putting them in danger, for she believes that if the president’s son would be killed by the rebels then its totally the end of democracy for these people. So this comparison between safety for a few people versus freedom of all Nigerian people and choosing the latter truly shows how the utilitarian perspective works. As for the deontological perspective, Dr. Lena in a way views or rather perceives herself as a Nigerian too (as indicated by her usage of the phrase “my people” referring to the Nigerians) and so because of this we could say that she thinks that she is also subject to the president’s son privilege as a tribal leader, and as a follower, a subordinate, it is her duty to protect her master, the person above her using whatever means possible – such as lying and risking the lives of the people with her so long as she fulfills her duty to the person who is the leader of “her people”, of herself as well in a way, though not based on legal and cultural grounds but more on personal feelings and perception of one’s self.

The last important scene is when Lt. Waters and his men decided to protect the Nigerian people no matter what, despite the fact that it exemplifies disobedience in following orders. This act could be deduced as utilitarian for though it is out of disobedience from authority (means) the effect was pure heroism (ends), giving way to how the consequence of actions determine the moral goodness of a certain action, and in this case, it is no longer important that Lt. Waters and his men failed to obey orders, they were still deemed as heroes for they were able to save (some) Nigerian people along with Dr. Lena. This also explains the concept of the levels of pleasure/happiness, for the pleasure/happiness associated with being a good soldier versus a good man were weighed and as it turned out, being a good man, the pleasure that goes along with this is far more favorable for them for in the end Lt. Waters and his men became heroes. It could be of deontological perspective for the action done by Lt. Waters and his men could still be deemed as duty-based. It is because though it is a soldier’s duty to follow orders, it is also their duty, first and foremost to save lives and fight enemies; and that’s exactly what Lt. Waters and his men have done. Also, despite the possibility that they may be killed or be suspended from service, they still did what they did, keeping in mind of their primary duty as a soldier, to protect and save people from enemies.

With this I could say that we should not determine the moral worth of an action through analysis of whether the means done or the resulted consequence of a certain action was in line with following duties, with keeping in mind the greatest good for the greatest number of people and of how the highest level of pleasure/happiness is eminent…it should be able to just make a very vague concept like “goodness”, a tangible one, through whatever means and consequences, these are not important as long as there’s a hint of “good” in it.
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Nicha



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PostSubject: Reaction on Saving Private Ryan   Sat Jan 17, 2009 4:33 am

The movie "Saving Private Ryan" centered about trying to locate one of the Ryan brothers amidst a war. Captain John Miller took the assignment and decided to go on with the mission with his comrades.

One of the important events that happened was when Captain Miller accepted the order to locate Private Ryan. This act is best understood from a deontological perspective. The focus of deontology, according to Leonardo D. de Castro's Etika at Pilosopiya, is the act itself and not the consequence. Taking the example of Captain Miller's actions, I can say that it is justifiable from a deontological perspective. Deontology also states that something is good if you do it for the sake of duty.Another scene of the story which can be best understood from a deontological perspective was when the comrades of Captain Miller decided to go on with the mission. Their actions were good in itself. They have decided to perform their duties. In this sense, their actions, even if it produced some unpleasant events, are still good and justififiable.
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PostSubject: Re: Reaction on films, due Jan 16, Friday   

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