“Gone Baby Gone” is a mystery film about kidnapping that contains more questions than answers. The film shows many moral as well as immoral issues that are considered positive or negative depending on the deontological results one decides to pursue. One significant instance is the situation when Patrick, a private detective, decides to alert the authorities about Doyle fake kidnapping plot (Affleck 2007). Doyle is later arrested, and a kidnapped girl, Amanda, is reunited with her real mother, Helena, who actually mistreats her daughter. On the other hand, Patrick’s girlfriend, Angie, breaks up with him because of alerting the authority (Affleck 2007). Therefore, using the Kantian moral philosophy, the essay aims at determining whether this instance in the film is moral or immoral.
Kantian moral philosophy states that people should consider the reasoning and not the repercussions of the actions (Forschler 2013). The philosophy has three maxims that will help in evaluating whether the situation was moral or not. The first maxim states that a person is moral if another person will act the same way in a similar situation (Forschler 2013). In the case of Patrick, his actions are moral. This is because the law states that it is unlawful to stage a fake kidnapping even if it is for a good course. Another person in a similar situation will also have to alert the authorities about the kidnapping irrespectively to the repercussions.
The second maxim states that a person is moral if the action treats others as an end in themselves and not as a means to an end (Forschler 2013). In the film, Patrick aims at solving the mystery by finding a concrete solution that will help answer questions for all the relevant parties. When Patrick alerts the authority about what Doyle has done, his main aim is to help Helena and Amanda reunite (Affleck 2007). This is because Helena is the biological mother of Amanda. According to the law, she has a right to take care of her daughter. Based on this maxim, it is clear that Patrick’s action is moral.
Finally, the third maxim states that a person’s actions are moral if they tend to create a universal law applicable by people in similar situations (Forschler 2013). This means that the moral reasoning of a person towards an action should create a precedent law that is universal for other people to follow. In “Gone Baby Gone”, Patrick sets a precedent law where kidnapping is wrong irrespective of the outcome (Affleck 2007). Although Doyle was trying to save Amanda from her mother, kidnapping her and lying about it was not the solution. For example, if Patrick did not alert the authorities he could have contradicted the law and legalized kidnapping.
On the contrary, scholars like Jonathan Baron and Mark Spranca critic the Kantian philosophy and have a different opinion about the situation (Forschler 2013). They use the protective values to show Patrick’s action was immoral. According to their deontological view, Patrick is aware that Amanda is being mistreated by her mother (Affleck 2007). For this reason, he should not have alerted the authorities. Instead, he should have kept quiet for the purpose of protecting Amanda from her mother.
It is worth noting that Patrick’s decision to alert the authorities was personal and not motivated. Kantian philosophy argues that a person’s action should not be motivated or done to please another person even if they are moral. This means that Patrick’s action was moral. Secondly, based on the maxims of the philosophy, it is clear that Patrick was reasoning out the most moral solution from the alternatives. Certain scholars have different perspectives, but, according to Kantian moral philosophy, Patrick’s action was moral.
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