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Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision

Kant’s moral philosophy falls under deontological ethical theories. The theories in this group hold that “the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty” (Walla 731). Kant argued that events such as lying, theft, and murder were morally wrong even in instances where they resulted in happiness (qtd. in Walla 731). One must engage in actions that do not violate the rights and goals of other people. Kant trusted in the existence of an absolute law of morality, which he termed as the categorical imperative. In the film Gone Baby Gone, Judge Patrick is faced with the dilemma of deciding between doing what is ethically correct and what is good. This essay will use Kant’s moral philosophy to critic the final judgment that the judge made.

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Patrick encounters challenges in passing a judgment after Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) admits to kidnapping Amanda McCready to rescue her from her drunkard mother. Jack believed that Amanda would have suffered if left under the care of her mother because the latter had no time for anybody (Gone Baby Gone). The only way that he could have helped was by taking the child away from its mother. The conversation between Patrick and Jack supports Kant’s opinion of “treating all human beings as ends in themselves and never as merely means to ends” (Walla 734). The judge questioned the morality of Jack’s actions. Even though the intention was to rescue Amanda from her irresponsible mother, he did not have the right to decide the fate of the mother and her child. The judge failed to understand how one can take a child away to save it from its own mother. Based on Kant’s moral viewpoint, a child belongs to its mother (Walla 735). It is wrong to separate a kid from the mother no matter the circumstances. Patrick acknowledged that Amanda would have suffered if left under the care of her mother. However, he refused to treat Helene (Amanda’s mother) as a means to an end.

The judge opted to do what was right and gave Amanda back to her mother. His decision was unpopular with many people who equated the move to condemn the child. His character defeated common sense when he consciously decided that Amanda belonged with her mother, knowing very well that Jack would have been a better custodian of the girl than Helene. If Patrick had decided to give Amanda to Jack, he would have set a wrong precedence. His actions would have amounted to promoting and accommodating a universal rule that would have legalized snatching, stealing, and separating children from their parents whenever people felt that the kids were not being raised in the right manner. Such a move would have resulted in parents going through a lot of pain. Take for instance a situation where a couple separates due to irreconcilable differences and one of them is unemployed. It would have meant that the unemployed party had to surrender the custodian of the child since they could not raise it well. Such a decision would not have been correct, especially where a mother had to give away her child due to financial hardships.

The judgment made by Patrick underscored the importance of doing what is right even if it is unpopular. The judge highlighted the importance of treating people as ends to a course and not as means. The film helped people to understand the ethical theme of decision-making and to discern what their duties entail. The judgment meant that if faced with a dilemma of choosing between what is ethically correct and what is good, the former should take precedence.

Works Cited

Gone Baby Gone. Directed by Ben Affleck, performance by Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, The Ladd Company, 2007.

Walla, Alice Pinheiro. “Kant’s Moral Theory and Demandingness.” Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 18, no. 4, 2015, pp. 731-743.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 30). Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/kants-moral-philosophy-and-judge-patricks-final-decision/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, December 30). Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision. https://studycorgi.com/kants-moral-philosophy-and-judge-patricks-final-decision/

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"Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision." StudyCorgi, 30 Dec. 2021, studycorgi.com/kants-moral-philosophy-and-judge-patricks-final-decision/.

1. StudyCorgi. "Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision." December 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/kants-moral-philosophy-and-judge-patricks-final-decision/.


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StudyCorgi. "Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision." December 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/kants-moral-philosophy-and-judge-patricks-final-decision/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision." December 30, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/kants-moral-philosophy-and-judge-patricks-final-decision/.

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Kant’s Moral Philosophy and Judge Patrick’s Final Decision'. 30 December.

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