In Dr. Baron’s lecture on Thursday, he talked about what ethics are and what makes a person good, and then we discussed what makes a person evil in turn. He started out talking about ethics, and said that ethics are the study of morality. Since each person is different, everyone has a different view on what is right and what is wrong. One person may think that decision A is good when another person believes decision A is bad and decision B is good. This was very eye opening as we went over multiple scenarios and people had different views on what was right and what was wrong in each scenario. We then discussed this a little in terms of the Hunger Games, and said how the lower and less wealthy districts think that the Capitol is bad, but the capitol and more wealthy districts think that the Capitol is good and the lower districts are bad.
We next discussed four different philosophical theories on what is good. The first one was called utilitarianism. This says that to determine if something is good, the action produces the greatest balance of happiness over sadness for the greatest number of people. This means that even if something is best for you, but more people would benefit from something else, the best action to take is one that does not benefit you and benefits others. We see this in the Hunger Games when Katniss shoots President Snow. We learn from the beginning that Katniss wants to be the one to kill President Snow, and she gets her chance at the end of the third book. However, in the end she decides that even though she wants to kill President Snow, in the long run, it would benefit the people of the districts to have President Coin dead since she would be a bad leader for them.
The second theory is called deontology, which focuses on the duties one has to uphold. This is basically saying to treat others as you would want to be treated. In return, never do anything to another person that you would not like for them to do to you. Since the Hunger Games are about killing others to keep yourself alive, if we apply deontology to that, we can say that this does not follow the golden rule, and in turn the Hunger Games are evil, as well as the people who participate in the games.
The third theory is virtue. This is just basically asking the question “what virtues make someone a good person?” Throughout the series, we hear about Prim and how loving she is and how she wants to help others however she can. These are virtues that make Prim a good person. We also hear about President Snow. We hear about how he poisoned all of his rivals in the presidential campaign so he would win the campaign. He is also one of the reasons why the Hunger Games continue. These virtues do not make him a good person, in turn making him evil.
The final theory is care. This is when someone makes a decision for the betterment of care of others. We see this in the first book when Katniss volunteers to go into the Hunger Games for Prim. She knows that Prim has a very small chance of surviving the games since she is small and young. By volunteering, Katniss cares for her sister even though she puts her life in danger.
Overall, it is very interesting to see how different these theories can be. If you take a situation and have two options, one can be good and one can be evil depending on what theory you are basing the decision off of. It is also interesting to see how much this relates to the Hunger Games. We know that President Snow is evil, but looking at these theories, it is interesting to see how for him and for the Capitol, his decisions could be good or evil depending on your viewpoint.
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Picture From: http://www.alternet.org/culture/6-surprising-scientific-findings-about-good-and-evil