Monday, February 27, 2012

After the Oscars, The Walking Dead 2.10 Meets John Stuart Mill

After an excellent Oscars with Billy Crystal - except for the cowardly ABC bleeping - it was pleasing jolt to see The Walking Dead 2.10, which was all about rules.

Rick vs. Shane: whose rules?  We've seen that before, lots of it, but this time their argument over what to do with the kid who lost his leg in town is interrupted by one of the best walker scenes all season. Shane in the bus with walkers breaking into the door, and the way he handles two of them, and the way Rick rescues him (I know he wouldn't leave him there), was itself worth the price of admish.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch (farm), there's also a clash of rules also going on, between Lori and Andrea, over what to do about Beth, who wants to commit suicide.  Andrea says let her make her own choice.  Lori (and Maggie) want to do everything in their power to stop her.

Philosophy question: what would a utilitarian philosopher like John Stuart Mill, who held that you could swing your arm, anytime any way you want to, as long as you don't hit someone else's nose, have said about suicide?  No easy answer.  One way of dealing with this is to say that anyone who wants to commit suicide is not in his or her right mind, so the usual utilitarian principle doesn't apply.  But that could be a slippery slope ...

Anyway, back on the farm, Andrea gets to give Beth a choice - who slashes her wrist, but regrets it.  And since the cut is not deep enough to kill, she'll get to live.   And now she's empowered, becauses she made the choice to live, not someone else.  So she's likely to stand by that decision.

Was Andrea therefore right?  Well ....  I still say not ...  What if Beth had killed herself?  Had that happened, she'd have lost the opportunity to change her mind.

And this is what makes The Walking Dead so good - it's not just horror, it's intelligent horror, the kind John Stuart Mill might well have enjoyed.


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The Plot to Save Socrates

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