Sanjana Khusal fantastically digs into the core of what really drives The Good Place, both in-universe and out of it.
Chidi Anagonye spends the entirety of The Good Place with a stomach ache and impending ethical dilemmas. He was a philosopher who is still contemplating the morals of every situation posthumously. I’m hoping I’m not the only student who has stolen Chidi’s brain whilst writing an essay. Philosophers like Aristotle and John Locke teach us the efforts we must go to in order to be morally uplifting and a functioning human. Learning about human existence means we become better humans and gain a deeper understanding of our personal philosophies. And so you know what you are without philosophy? Ya basic.
The Metaphysics of Morals by Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant wrote the book on how to act good. Kant says everyone has a moral imperative to one another. Our actions must benefit the greater good of the community. Kant wrote that “it is our duty to improve ourselves.” We must put the needs of others before ourselves. Our choices should align with what others require. We all got taught this as children: treat people the way you want to be treated. When one person falls out of this philosophy, acts selfishly, the authority within society begins to collapse. It becomes a domino effect: one person gives up on humanity and the rest follow.
Our character is voluntary. We have the ability to choose what actions we take in everyday life. We each take on a particular moral philosophy and are a part of our personality.
Everyone has the ability to improve and evolve. Our personalised philosophies are like having sex, the more we try and experiment the better it gets. Over time, we all learn from our actions and are able to change. Time allows us to avoid being a messy bench. Everyone has the ability to improve and evolve. Moral philosophy is something which can be developed and changed. Character is voluntary as it is a result of your actions which are under our control.
What We Owe To Each Other by T. M. Scanlon
When we make a promise, we must honour that agreement. I’m sure none of us expected this theory to be something that covers the whole show. Eleanor’s journey through the show, from the bad place to a good place, is motivated by her underlying need to be there for each other. We are under a contractual obligation to be there for one another. We have all agreed to basic forms of loyalty and human connection, such as being a wingman, following the bro code, human decency in lecture rooms. We need to be there for each other, despite any inconvenience. Being a good person means we look after each other. Some people don’t believe we need to be there for others, that it would be better to act independently. But The Good Place believes that daily life is impossible without the interactions of others. Every action we take somehow involves the world beyond our bedrooms.
Death by Todd May
What is the point of existing? As university students, we all feel the impending doom of death and time. Nothing matters if we’re all going to die one day. As Michael says, we all gotta keep moving. Living is fickle but death is permanent. Death is something we all have to deal with but it doesn’t mean we should spend every waking moment wondering when we will die. If anything, knowing we are going to die one day should mean we spend every day living. There is no point in worrying about death. Death and you can never exist at the same time. You must live your life before death follows you.
Phillipa Foot’s ‘trolley problem’
A runaway trolley is heading down a track. There are two pathways: one which will kill five people and the other will hit one person. Is it okay to sacrifice one person’s life for another? Are there specific situations when choosing to kill someone is okay? There are many versions of this problem. For example, you might be a doctor who has the opportunity to use one man’s organs to save five people. Or if you know that one person. Phillipa Foot notes that there is no right answer to this problem. It’s a question of being God. There are situations where we are inevitably accountable for our actions. Some choices are impossible to avoid. Even being a bystander is a choice. This show particularly emphasises how making a decision is a lot more difficult in person than it is in theory. The Ethics Express is certainly a mess but it is also life.
So, do you remember that shirtballs film, “Batman vs. Superman”? The film begins with Superman destroying a building with the intent of killing a bigger evil. The double effect believes that the intentions of Superman subside any damages caused. As long as his intentions were purely to kill the evil, then it is considered okay. This philosophy follows us every day: abortions, euthanasia, holding secrets. In order to remain ethical, you must act with only the intention for good. Your bad actions can be an excuse if your goal was for the morally good.
John Locke believed that personal identity is based on a continued consciousness, like memories. Individual identities evolve as we progressively learn from past experiences. Over time, we gain more and more memories. The memories we store allow us the opportunity to make an educated decision. Every time a person remembers something from a previous event, there is potential for the characteristics to evolve. Anything we chose to do influences our identities. When we choose to wake up early, go to class, eat a meal, these decisions are based on the previous understanding that we function better from rising early, attending all functions and fueling our bodies with good nutrients.
Philosophy helps us grow (and get better grades). Keep working and get through the day making good decisions that make the world a little better. Take it sleezy!