Thursday, February 9, 2012

Philosophy of Code Geass & Death Note: How to judge whether a person is moral or immoral

In one day the average person makes many decisions; should I wake up now or press the snooze button, what should I wear today, what should I ear, should I take a shower? (please take a shower!) We just woke up but we already have our brains working on overdrive. These are all mundane decisions that we no longer think as important but some decisions are more important like should I study for a test today, should I get my car serviced, or should I get married? John Stuart Mills, a British philosopher, and know for is work on the philosophy of utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is judging whether an act is moral based on the consequences. Mills founded the principle of utility, that “actions are that actions are right to the extent that they promote happiness for anyone affected by them, and wrong to the extent that they promote unhappiness”.
Mills also implies, “that it is rate that an individual has the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the well-being of society”. Not many individuals have changed the world based on their actions. In Code Geass, Lelouch unites a crippled nation, defies a powerful empire. You can also see this in Death Note; Light Yagami becomes Kira - the harbinger of justice - and changes the world into a place where people fear to become criminals in case the wrath of Kira falls upon them and they suffer of a heart attack. Now this doesn’t just happen in fiction, real people have changed the world like Jesus, Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thomas Edison to name a few.
Immanuel Kant, a modern philosopher, disagrees with Mills when he  implies that, “good will is the only thing that is always good”. He goes on the say that even a clumsy person who cause more harm than good is moral if he has good intentions. He believes that it is not the consequences of your actions that make you moral but your intentions. The problem with that theory is that some people have good intentions but there wrongs are still immoral. Take Hitler for example, a fanatical radical who started a political movement to wipe out the “undesirables” of society like jews and gypsys. Anyone who stood in his way was considered “undesirable” and was sent to concentration camp to slowly die of either poisonous gas, cold, or starvation. He felt that, “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.He believed that he was doing the right thing, fighting for truth and justice, but just because your intentions are good doesn’t mean that your actions were moral.
Lelouch had good will, he wanted to make the world a safer and gentler place for his sister and Light wanted to clean the world of criminals but the question is, are there actions moral? I believe that because of the consequences of there actions, causing pain and suffering while fighting, their actions were immoral. Even though I love Lelouch I have to say that his actions were immoral because of the suffering he caused to get what he wanted.


  1. This argument is strikingly similar to the "do the ends justify the means" question, and it brings to mind similar issues about morality. Kant's take on morality is an interesting one, and probably one that I more likely agree with, because if you're doing harm to people but you're not meaning to, that doesn't mean you're immoral--you are just making mistakes. On the other hand, Lelouch was intentionally hurting people and causing chaos, so I agree with you that his morality was a bit off.

  2. Judging whether a person is immoral shouldn't solely be based on good intentions if they have bad outcomes. I think that deciding whether a person is immoral or moral should be based on a combination of their intentions and actions. If you are doing more wrong than right, are you really doing the right thing? Only so much harm can be forgiven. If they can't recognize their errors, than I feel that their actions are more immoral than moral.

  3. The only way a person can tell if they are doing the right thing is to ask themselves internally. Although to avoid the Hitler situation I think it takes your peers to basically tell you their opnions the rights and wrongs of your decisions. My opnion of morality is on eof a christian point of view, you have to ask yourslef if what you are doing is right in the eyes of god. Overall I though you made a great argument with excellent sources.

    1. I disagree with your debate; using God as a judge is wrong in the idea itself. There have been people like the ones in the Christian persecution of others, Hitler, and even other religious groups who believe that they are doing right in the eyes of God. Morality is a system employed by man, but to follow it restricts yourself to the box man puts himself in. It hinders us. I agree that morality falls onto if what you have done was in good intentions; although, good intentions cannot change the world because man is evil in nature. However, you can force change, and, changing society in good intentions would be of the better for mankind, even with the consequences.

  4. Lelouch caused death and dispair to achieve his goals: A world without suffering. Ironic true, however, I find it more ironic that you spend all this time disproving Kant's theory only to proclaim Lelouch to be immoral using it. you said the consequences of Lelouches actions were pain and suffering but as I said earlier these were but the means to his ends. Therefore, you may only defend your claim of Lelouchs immorality by suggesting that he didn't carry his actions with good will, but since you already insisted on the illegitimacy of Immanuel Kant's theory, Lelouch vi Britania's actions cannot be deemed immoral. As mills put it, the consequences judges the actions, and I think it's obvious, that the state of the world after Lelouch's atonement can justify any and all of his sins.