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Duties & Consequences Essay

1359 words - 6 pages

Duties and Consequences
Tenesha Williams
Capella University
November, 2015

Author Note
This paper was written for Philosophy - Ethics, taught by Instructor Mulberry.

Duties and Consequences
The motion picture Casablanca from 1942, is a romantic drama movie that portrays people and scenarios in the midst of World War II background in Casablanca, Morocco. The lead protagonist, an American expatriate Rick Blaine, owns a nightclub Café Americian in Casablanca and in the movie must choose between his love interest or helping his love interest’s husband, a renowned leader of Czech Resistance movement, in fighting against the Nazi occupation in the Czech Republic. While Rick appears ...view middle of the document...

His former love interest enters his night club, amidst all the ongoing refugees’ situation and the Nazi officials that prey upon them, and we learn of Rick and Ilsa’s past affair.
Ilsa Lund (the former love interest) was married to a Czech resistance movement leader whom she thought was dead at the time she was with Rick. Ilsa leaves Rick after finding out her husband was alive. Her husband Laszlo had escaped the Nazi concentration camp, and now they’re in Casablanca looking for an escape to the USA where Laszlo can continue his work. Rick is the one with power now since he holds highly valuable visas (letters of transit) due to his nightclub connections that could save his former love interest that had left him and her husband. Their destinies lie in Rick’s hands, and there is little to no room for Rick Blaine’s supposed neutrality concerning the battle of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ around him when it comes to a couple that is personally connected to him. The character Rick Blaine and his actions throughout the movie can be seen as examples of a combination of Kantian and Mill’s claims.

Character selections and scenarios to Kant and Mill
Kant’s Categorical Imperative focuses on a ‘maxim’ that can be applied to everyone and can be the universal principle of morality and ethic as a golden rule for behavior. Morality of actions is determined by adherence to duty of rules and justice. Going against established rules or law is going against duty in action and is therefore immoral, and cannot be the general universal principle. (Kant, 1785)
Mill formulates a single ethical principle, from which he says all utilitarian ethical principles are derived that Utility or the greatest-happiness principle holds “that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure.” (Mill, 1863) Happiness itself is the end goal of utilitarianism according to the theory thus. (Rachels, J. & Rachels S. 2010)
Rick’s persona is at first supposedly neutral regarding politics and conflicts, working to satisfy his own needs, and taking care of his nightclub that is visited by refugees, Nazi and Vichy France officials that use the club for various, often opposing reasons. However, the viewer learns that Rick had fought against fascist Nationalists in Spanish Civil War, and had helped Ethiopia’s side in the war against fascists.  He is a character that has been through difficulties and was disillusioned by life in various instances hence the explanation for his cynicism towards the world around him. We learn that a part of his apathetic cynical views is his broken love affair with Ilsa Lund. His sacrifice in Casablanca where he is letting go of Ilsa, and giving the married couple the necessary letters of transit so they can leave for the USA is an example of Kantian claim of acting according to what...

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