Boomerang Film (1947): Kantianism and Utilitarianism Depiction


Boomerang Film Philosophies: Prompt 2 This paper is worth 5 points. Turn this paper in during week 8 via “turn-it-in” within Canvas. Plagiarism of any kind will result in a grade of zero. This paper should be 2-4 pages. Use MLA guidelines. All references should be properly documented. Using MLA guidelines, properly document any references […]

Boomerang Film and Kantianism

In the movie sector, films pose numerous predicaments to the audience, making it challenging to judge situations unethically or ethically. One of the leading dilemmas is the notion between Kantian and utilitarian theories. An excellent example of the stated philosophies that posed a huge dilemma is Boomerang (1947) by Ella Kazan. A significant problem in Boomerang is a questionable confession. John Waldron, a drifter in Ohio, is detained for carrying a gun used in a murder in Bridgeport, Connecticut (Boomerang). The police chief (Robinson) coerces a confession from the suspect due to the heavy pressure from the local newspaper and greedy politicians. Fortunately, Attorney Henry Harvey, an idealistic prosecutor, boldly proves that the suspect is not guilty regardless of the political pressure, a false witness, and a tainted confession.

The movie Boomerang argues in favor of Kantianism and radically against utilitarianism based on the notion of a categorical imperative. The principle is based on The Moral Law, which is a universal ethical principle asserting that an individual should at all times respect the humanity in others (course reading: chapter 9). In a utilitarian notion, the value of an agent is quantified based on their hedonic contribution. Based on utilitarianism, the action of discarding a person would not only be recommended but deemed morally correct if it satisfies utility. In the film, the police torture the suspect and force him to confess to the murder. The action is centered only on results, which maximizes utility because it makes the public and politicians happy. Harvey, in the film, advocates for Kantian theory. It states that all individuals should be accorded intrinsic, infinite, and absolute value (Cholbi 22). He believes that the process used by the police is hugely unethical and inhumane. Kantian theory, unlike utilitarianism, asserts that people should consider actions before they begin to perform them. The movie argues in favor of Kantianism. In brief, it shows that evaluating the moral worth of an individual in terms of utility, as done in utilitarianism, is heinously wicked.

The district attorney would face possible consequences by defending the accused’s innocence. He would object to utilitarianism, given that it would require him to violate the standard of justice. The murder in the film caused social unrest in the town. The district attorney knows peace will be restored, and the city will be at peace. The district attorney believes it is wrong to punish an innocent individual because it is unjust and would violate the suspect’s rights.

Kant would recommend such a defense by the attorney because it is motivated by duty towards another person. The decision by Harvey could stem from the notion that the objective of a state’s attorney is not only to punish a criminal but to bring justice. Despite the consequences, Harvey is taking the correct action by valuing The Moral Law (Paton 45). That way, he upholds the claim of reason by freely basing his actions on Moral Principles. Hence, Harvey would have been radically evil if he had convicted the suspect, knowing that all the facts were not made public and the suspect was innocent. In brief, any attempt to subvert reason would be gravely morally wrong for Harvey.

The utilitarian would recommend against such a defense in the sense that ignoring the rights of one individual would be essential for the greater good of the community and justice or life. In essence, imprisoning the suspect, whether guilty or not, would be the morally right thing to do. The reason for the aforementioned is that the action would satisfy the desires of the society for justice hence maximizing utility (course reading: chapter 7). The net happiness gain is all that matters in utilitarianism (de Lazari-Radek 24). Overall, utilitarianism would justify making the suspect’s life miserable in service of the rest because it increases the happiness of many.

In summary, in the film Boomerang, Kantianism theory appears to be the most ethical and moral approach to follow than utilitarianism. The reason for this is that it advocates for human rights. Utilitarianism is fundamentally flawed because it requires one to commit unjust actions in specific circumstances. Boomerang demonstrates that some actions should never be done despite the positive outcome. Thus, everyone deserves moral respect, given that people are autonomous rational agents.

Works Cited

Boomerang. Dir. Elia Kazan Twentieth Century Fox, 1947. Film.

Cholbi, Michael. Understanding Kant’s Ethics. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

de Lazari-Radek, Katarzyna, and Peter Singer. Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Paton, Herbert James. The Categorical Imperative: A Study in Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Classic Reprint). 2017.

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Published On: 01-01-1970

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