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Kant's Moral Philosophy

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Moral philosophy is a very complex and controversial subject, as the judgment of an action as moral or immoral can vary depending on the focus on separate aspects which are depicted in the theory. At times, our judgment falls to reasoning on what is ethical. Life consists of making choices on a daily basis. The choice one makes is both right and wrong, at the same time, depending on a specific situation. Regardless what choice a person makes, it will be the right one for that person. Nevertheless, there exists a range of general standards, which label one's choice as being 'right' or 'wrong'. According to the definition, ethics '... is well-founded standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, or specific virtues. Secondly, ethics refer to the study and development of one's ethical standards'. Morality has a very thin line, which entitles humans to make a choice in favor of humanity and reason, rather than impulses and instincts. Nevertheless, being moral and ethical does not always seem to be the right thing to do, especially when there are so many influencing factors, which put the moral reasons and the outcome of an action under a question. Deontological approach states that the morality is not situational: 'the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action'.

The film 'Sleepers' has enough motion to discuss the multidimensional aspects of moral philosophy. Having planned to perform an innocent practical joke on a hot-dog seller, four boys have become the victims of their own deceit, and have paid their price. Is their approach of seeking justice to what has happened to them in the Youth Correction Facility Institution for boys moral, or is it not? This paper focuses on portraying the morality of the plot in the film 'Sleepers' through the prism on Kantian theory of morality and deontological approach.

The film 'Sleepers' has three main culminating moments: the unconstrained murder by the boys of a man by the hot-dog tray, the murder of Knox, and the trial and the priest's false testimony. According to Kant, the moral requirements were falling under the category of rationalization of one's will. Therefore, an action that falls under no substantial reason for it should be considered immoral. For this, even though the boys did not mean to harm anyone in their cruel joke with the hot-dogs, they killed an innocent person, as they have been enslaved by their passion for free food and entertainment. As a result of their immoral actions, they had to carry the punishment. Even though, technically, they did not do anything wrong by playing a joke, it resulted in a death of a person; therefore, basing on the deontological approach this case is immoral.

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Second, seeing Knox dining in a bar has brought negative memories, and the two men have decided to kill him, therefore breaking even on their sufferings back in the facility. Weighing the consequences of the past, they had a good reason of killing the guardian, especially taking into consideration the fact that he had been raping them, insulting them, beating them up, and even had killed one of the imprisoned boys. Nonetheless, the deontological approach would suggest that their deed was indeed immoral. Basing on the fact that the general public rule and one of the Ten Commandments states that killing a person in unacceptable, even in such a grave case.

Third, the false testimony of the priest can be looked at as moral and immoral, at the same time. It can be explained, first of all, by helping out the friends that the priests had known for many years now. Second, keeping in mind what a person Knox had been, it would be moral to stand for the guys, even if it required to lie in court. Nevertheless, taking into consideration the constitution and the common rules of moral, the priest has performed an immoral action. First, he is a priest and is ought not to lie. Second, he swore on the Bible to give truthful testimony, which shows him in a negative light in his social role. Third, covering for the killers, knowing that they indeed have killed a person would be summed up as an immoral deed, as it does not compute under the general rules of morality and ethics.

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To sum up, deontological approach clearly states that one has to follow the rules, no matter what. In such a way, a person has to focus on the status of the action itself, rather than the consequences. According to this approach, despite of unfavorable outcome, a moral thing to do would be to always follow the generally set standards of moral rules.

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