Batman and Ethics goes behind the mask to shed new light on the complexities and contradictions of the Dark Knight’s moral code. From the logic behind his aversion to killing to the moral status of vigilantism and his use of torture in pursuit of justice (or perhaps revenge), Batman’s ethical precepts are compelling but often inconsistent and controversial. Philosopher and pop culture expert Mark D. White uses the tools of moral philosophy to track Batman’s most striking ethical dilemmas and decisions across his most prominent storylines from the early 1970s through the launch of the New 52, and suggests how understanding the mercurial moral character of the caped crusader might help us reconcile our own.
A thought-provoking and entertaining journey through four decades of Batman’s struggles and triumphs in time for the franchise’s 80th anniversary, Batman and Ethics is a perfect gateway into the complex questions of moral philosophy through a focused character study of this most famous of fictional superheroes.
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About the Author
Table of ContentsAcknowledgments vi
Part I: What Batman Tries to Do—and How He Might Do It Better 9
1 Utilitarianism and the Mission 11
2 Limitations of the Mission 19
3 Trade‐Offs within the Mission 43
4 The Value and Meaning of the Bat 78
Part II: What Batman Is Willing to Do—and What He Isn’t 115
5 Deontology and the Rules 117
6 Killing 125
7 Torture and Violence 169
8 Law, Justice, and the Police 201
List of Comics Writers and Artists 279