NBC's The Good Place could be the most compelling comedy on network television. But it also has an impressive philosophical background that drives the plot and creates intrigue without complaining about the story or feeling trapped in a classroom. If you have seen all three seasons, you probably have a pretty good understanding of the principles of moral philosophy that are repeated throughout the series – Aristotle's' virtue ethics' and Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism, for example, form the basis for much of the narrative and ' character development. However, other expressions are supplied via a quick drawing dialog or individual episode sheets, possibly underestimating the artful way in which the creator Michael Schur has just prepared you a huge, delicious meal of moral philosophy.
In Preparation The fourth and final season of The Good Place refreshes five important concepts of moral philosophy that you may have overlooked.
* Spoiler Alert: Spoiler for the first three seasons of The Good Place below. Continue with caution. *
. Moral Imperative
After Kristen Bell's Eleanor first realizes that she does not belong to The Good Place, she asks Chidi to teach her to be a good person. Chidi has some concerns and questions regarding such a morally ambiguous company, including: "Is there a moral imperative that can help you?" It refers to Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative or the idea that we all follow an imperturbable moral code There is nothing to do with situational variables.
According to Kant, lying, stealing and other immoral behavior can never be justified – even if you lie to spare someone's feelings or steal a loaf of bread, feed a starving child. So Chidi tries to figure out which decision best fits with Kant's moral code. On the one hand, Eleanor is not part of The Good Place, and helping her could be considered a violation of the categorial imperative if it is a form of fraud. On the other hand, Eleanor asks for help to become a better person, and denying help to anyone – especially if their morality depends on it – seems to be the opposite of doing the right thing. The moral imperative to help Eleanor wins. Of course, this is the first time that Chidi makes a choice based on Kant's uncompromising ethical system.
. 2 The Doctrine of Double Effect
In season 2, episode 7, Janet has created a demonic rebound friend named Derek to help her overcome her persistent feelings for Jason – feelings that cause a series of malfunctions, such as the spontaneous summoning of a foot about 3 m long -Long under and vomiting thousands of cents. While Jason and Tahani are basking in a love-drenched paradise, Michael, Chidi and Eleanor are trying to develop an ethical strategy to repair Janet and prevent Derek from breaking their cover against the very annoying demon Vicky. However, all their possible solutions require one of two distinctly immoral behaviors: kill Derek or ruin the happy relationship between Jason and Tahani. Thus, Chidi offers an ethical gap that is called doctrine of the double effect and was shaped by Thomas Aquinas.
According to the doctrine, you can act in ways that produce an immoral side effect as long as your primary purpose is morally grounded. For example: Michael could tell Jason that he was married to Janet at an earlier restart and knew that this would cause emotional pain for Jason and Tahani (and could also lead Janet to eliminate Derek in favor of Jason), As long as he's married, the primary goal in spilling the beans is to save them all from Vicky's future anger and Janet's potentially catastrophic future mishaps.
Although the double-effect doctrine inspires this episode-specific storyline, it subtly continues the story of Eleanor and Chidi's relationship with Eleanor's request to show Chidi the video footage of an earlier reboot in which they confess their love for each other. Her main intention is to hope that she will revive her romance, and if she unintentionally (OK, witty) at the same time served Chidi a big bowl of emotional turmoil with an abdominal pain supplement? Aquinas would say that this is a morally acceptable combination meal.
. 3 Moral Desert
In the season two finale, a discouraged, drunken Eleanor confesses to a bartender (Michael in a Cheers -inspired disguise) that she pleads for good behavior for six months after her near-death experience left her miserable unfulfilled. In other words, she had expected to receive some sort of cosmic reward for her virtue that would make it worthwhile. Michael identifies her mindset as an expectation of a moral desert (pronounced dessert ); If you are a good person, you deserve something in return. But, to quote all parents everywhere, life is not fair – and as Eleanor stated, the pride in a well-done job is not really enough to sustain a life of infallible virtue. So if you can not count on moral desert, why would you even try to be a good person?
For egocentric Eleanor, the idea that the answer could be related to our relationships with other people is more than a small thought-blown. After Looking Up What do we owe each other? a specific question that Michael posed during their conversation, Eleanor encounters a video lecture that Chidi gave on the subject and asks her to pay him a visit to Australia and pushes the plot of the third season – and Eleanor's character development – in great Style ahead.
. 4 Happiness Pump
When Janet and Michael meet Doug Forcett in the eighth episode of season three, they are appalled. After Doug predicted exactly how long the post-mortem system would be decades ago, even though he still has many fungi (which his hypothesis does not confirm, of course), he devoted himself to the kind of utilitarian existence so often mentioned throughout the series : Act in a way that maximizes the best Overall good. In doing so, Doug only eats radishes and lentils to save the environment, tests harmful cosmetics on his own face to keep the animals in pain, and dissolves completely if he accidentally steps on a snail. While theoretically it sounds so good to be selfless, Doug shows how terrible such a strict commitment to utilitarianism is. He has become what Janet calls a lucky pump. In other words, he tries to pump as much luck as possible into the world at his own expense.
In his book Moral Tribes Joshua David Greene, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, argues that being a lucky pump could cause more social harm than good. If you contribute to the common good and yet remain happy and comfortable, other people will realize that charity and service can also enrich their own lives. "If you barely pinch your breach instead, you can do more directly with your personal donations, but you can undermine the larger cause by giving an unattractive example to yourself." And no one could possibly look at Doug and decide it's worth modeling her behavior after his. Although the series has always strongly suggested that being a good person does not make it as easy as collecting as many brownie points as possible, it is our introduction to the human happiness pump that really marks the beginning of the end to the utilitarian system of The Good Place expresses.
. 5 John Locke's Theory of Personal Identity
John Locke believed that personal identity was based on a continuing consciousness, d. H. memories, based. For most of us, this seems logical: we grow into ourselves as individuals, learning and changing based on past experiences. However, it is not so easy for Eleanor, Chidi, Jason and Tahani. Over the course of hundreds of reboots, they've read books, fallen in love, made mistakes, and ate a lot of mediocre frozen yogurts that they can not remember. Chidi mentions the theory in episode 9 of season three, while the four people are in Janet's void and Eleanor struggles to maintain her personal identity. In order to prevent Chidi from completely losing her self-confidence, Chidi begins to rewrite her memories in a clear affirmation of Locke's theory.
This episode is not the only time that Chidi relies on Locke's line of thought – he uses it too. It is to explain why his earlier romantic love for Eleanor no longer counts, as it happened in an earlier reboot he does not remember anymore. In a light philosophical twist, Chidi Eleanor eventually returns to herself by kissing her, suggesting that personal identity exists on an even deeper level than memory, and Eleanor and Chidi are inherently connected. To the viewers, this idea is a glimmer of hope that carries us through the devastating finale of season three, in which Chidi decides that his only chance for the success of his new Good Place neighborhood experiment is that it will be restarted and all memories his last and younger play loses a meaningful romantic relationship with Eleanor. If the fairytale logic persists beyond their redemptive kiss, Chidi and Eleanor will likely find each other again in Season 4.