Ethical systems

by | May 27, 2021 | College (1-2), Movie Review

Open the attached document, read it, answer the questions in a separate document, and upload into this link.  You may choose to view excerpts of the film “A Few Good Men” by pasting these links into your browser (or search for it): OVERVIEW OF FILM PLEAD OUT THE LEGAL CASE ICONIC ENDING OF FILM

“A Few Good Men” is a movie with several ethical dilemmas.   The subject of ethics or the lack of ethics is portrayed by the lawyers and the military leaders in this film.  Tom Cruise stars as the hot-headed Navy lawyer, Daniel Kaffee, who’s forced to team up with a gung-ho litigator (Demi Moore) in a Marine murder case. In the process of defending the two Marines who were charged with the murder of killing a fellow soldier, Kaffee, is squarely face with issues of loyalty, honor, and ultimately, getting his act together. Kaffee starts off as an arrogant, uncaring lawyer who is neglectful of his duty toward his clients. However, by the end of the movie, the viewer gets a glimpse of who Kaffee really is and the dutiful lawyer he would really like to be. Ultimately, Kaffee becomes a lawyer who goes far to prove his case.  The two low ranking Marines are charged with the murder of a fellow Marine, by going too far in their zeal to make him a team player.  These two Marines claim they were ordered to make him a team player by use of a motivating tool called the Code Red; it is a questionable means of enforcing discipline in the troops. A means once legal, but now determined to be illegal per the civilian jurisdiction that oversees the military.  Yet, it seems that a sub-culture of Marine commanders see the utility of the Code Red to accomplish their goal – to keep the USA safe for the majority.

Lt. Kaffee learns from Col. Jessup’s Executive Officer, Lt. Col. Matthew Markinson, of a cover-up by Col. Jessup.  Colonel Jessup believes he is justified in use of the Code Red.  The Code Red in Jessup’s U.S. Marine Corp is a means to develop a cohesive team of soldiers that will protect the nation.  His end is to protect the nation; a safe nation is the maximum good that is achieved through a disciplined and trained Marine Corp.  The use of a Code Red is a means, a utility to a laudable end, safety of the majority of citizens.   The means to this end are not as significant as the goal.   

In the court proceedings, Lt. Kaffee places Col. Jessup on the stand as a witness, and then questions him about the circumstances surrounding the incident of a Marine’s death.  Jessup, replies to Kaffee with a raised voice, “You want to know the truth? You want to know the truth? Well, you can’t handle the truth.” Nicholson’s testimony is that some military acts must be covert for national security purposes. Indirectly, he states it is acceptable for him to lie about the incident, to protect the military and nation.  Finally, Jessup admits to ordering the Code Red. Adapted from:

In this assignment, each student is quizzed on comparing two ethical systems, both system is used to determine the “good” and “right” think to do. 

  • Pick a character in the movie that acts using Kant’s duty-based Ethics, in the response to one ethical dilemma, namely, the accidental Death of Private Santiago, a US Marine.  
  • Pick a character in the movie that acts using Utilitarian Ethics, in the response to one ethical dilemma, namely, the accidental Death of Private Santiago, a US Marine.  
  • Both persons think he/she is doing good, and morally right.  Explain the difference with references to the textbook.

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