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Ethical Concept in “Blood Diamonds” film by Edward Zwick Essay


What is ethics? Society has tried to amplify the meaning of this word but it seems that it is ever faced by differing myriad of challenges which are associated by it. In essence, the term ethics has been associated with a code, or rules which govern what one thing ought to be and what another thing ought not to be.

This rule in most cases has been used as a bar which marks the line between distinguishing what ought to be the case and what ought. It is important to note that ethics does not just exist it is derived from values which we have acquired in the course of life. These values have come to the point that they define what is and what is not. Furthermore, they ensure that there are acts which we can follow and those which we can do away with or even ignore.

In general, ethics is a branch of philosophy which puts to task the questions of morality while evaluating concepts such as what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, the issues of value and justice. Thus this field is widely known as moral philosophy. Ethics has many other branches though that is not what we are going to be looking at in this paper.

The Movie

Since ethics as a concept can be used to analyze the on goings in the society, we are going to take into this concept in detail. The subject matter shall be the movie Blood Diamond. This a movie which was produced in the year 2006 by Edward Zwick in which Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly are starring.

This movie is titled Blood Diamonds symbolizing the diamonds which are being mined in African war, in a country that was torn out by the struggle of soldiers and rebels. Throughout this movie the main aspect which is referred is the fact that these diamonds are mined and sold in order to raise funds which are to finance and to sustain war and conflict. Through this war, the warlords and companies which use diamond as raw material for their end products end up benefiting.

The movie as well is a bright and vivid in depicting battle scenes of colourable nature.

The Setting

The setting of this movie is a reflection of the events which took place in the West African country of Sierra Leon in the years 1992 – 2002. This was a decade which was characterized by civil war and anarchy between rebel forces and government soldiers.

During this time, a lot of atrocities were witnessed. Some of the atrocities which were witnessed include maiming of arms and limbs, rape and all manner of social evils which were taking place in that country for that entire period. This was meant to hinder the people from exercising their legal right to vote.

This movie ends up with a conference which took place in South Africa in the year 2000, with the aim of ending the civil conflict which was claiming lives in Sierra Leon. Eventually, the conference led to what would be later known as the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme.

This scheme was ratified with the aim of ascertaining the source of the diamonds. This was believed that it would aid in reducing if not stopping the trade involving illegal diamond which had contributed to the war.

The Plot

This movie starts with the capture of a fisherman by the name of Solomon Vandy by forces which were loyal to the Revolutionary United Front rebels. During his capture, the rebels destroyed the village. Incidentally, these persons did not maim or cut off his limbs, instead they sent him to work and toil in the mines under the command of a warlord named Captain Poison. The proceeds from these mines are used to fund the war.

As this happens, Danny Archer is arrested while he was he was suspected of trying to smuggle diamonds into another West African country. In spite of the fact that he is arrested, he manages to work out his own release from the prison and consequently, he also manages to get Solomon also released from the prison.

The two get into a deal whereby if Solomon leads him to the precious commodity, he will help him locate his family. During this time, the RUF capture the capital Freetown and plunder the city devastating it to the core. Fortunate for these two, they manage to survive this battle and they flee from this city by night. As they escape they bump into an American journalist and humanitarian by the name of Maddy Bowen who enables them to escape in exchange of information on the “blood diamond”.

Eventually the duo go back to the mine which is under the command of Captain Poison to try and rescue Solomon’s son Dia who refuses to acknowledge him and also salvage some of the diamond for their benefit. Towards the end of the movie, Archer dies and he aids Solomon to flee. As it is witnessed in the movie, the eventuality is marked with a standing ovation in favour of Solomon during the Kimberley conference in South Africa.

Emerging issues from the movie

This movie depicts issues which have emerged due to the conflict in Africa. Some of the emerging issues include human rights abuses, issues to do with environmental damage and terrorism. In this paper we are going to be looking at each of these issues in detail and look into the way one can be able to deal with them. Human Rights Issues

Human rights can be recognized as those values and dignity that people hold which set them apart from the others. These values are oriented towards protecting the sanctity of life and enhance the ideas of respect, justice, fairness and equality. It is important for us to recognize the value of human rights because they are important with regard to shaping our thinking patterns about the issues which might be affecting human life. These rights are basic and fundamental to human life.

They include the right to life, education, and right to fair trial, free speech and freedom from any form of torture or inhumane treatment. These rights were derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which were adopted and agreed upon by the nations on 10th December, 1948.

Environmental damage

These are issues which have to do with wantonness in environmental damage. For instance, the destruction of the forests to create room for mining has had its impact on the environment. This eventually leads to the destruction of the environment, like poisoning water, the land which becomes useless for raising, etc.


The subject of terrorism has been on the lips of every person on this planet. In essence, terrorism is an act which is characterized by the use of force in order to achieve political milestones or aims. Terrorism instils fear over the citizens that impair their ability to perform as effective citizens.

Ethical theories and their application

There are several ethical theories which can be applied with regard to the ethical issues which are emerging in this movie. These theories include the consequentialism theory. This is a theory which holds the opinion that most of the actions that we delve into depend on what is known as the non moral consequences that the actions bring.

In this case, what is important is the ability to evaluate what relationship exists between the good and the evil that one’s action produces. Essentially, we should be human beings who perform actions based on the fact that there are issues which are best dealt with when we are better able to analyze the consequences in light of the goodness or badness of the activity involved. Thus, in relation to the movie, it is important for the warlords to be able to ascertain what those values that they hold are.

Secondly, value clarification as a theory emphasizes on evaluating what one believes to be right. This is based on the belief, feelings, and systems of thought which are held by a given number of people. It is a theory which is also known as philosophical relativism. In this approach what is fundamental is the fact that thinking and action should take place in line with the Socratic approach.

Thirdly, the utilitarianism is an ethical approach which is based on the principle or moral standards which should be geared towards the best long term interest of the masses, that everyone who is concerned with the choices and decisions which you make as a person. In this approach, there are two forms of utilitarianism.

That is the act utilitarianism in this case the right act which is considered to be the right utilitarian act is based on the ratio of good to evil for all the persons who are concerned. Secondly, there is the rule utilitarianism which is based on the fact that there are acts which may not possess the greatest utilitarian value therefore there are rules and regulations to ensure that the general rules are formulated to ensure that these acts are enforced.

The forth important principle is the moral absolutism or legalistic moral absolutism. In this case, there are acts which have multiples of consequences. For instance, pluralities have absolutes and some of these pluralities may not necessarily conflict. This implies that acts which are considered evil will still remain to be evil no matter the circumstances thus we do what is good and hope that the goodness will sustain the act itself.

The fifth principle is what is known as the situational ethic. In this form off ethical consideration, the value is placed on virtues such as helpfulness, absolute love ad particularity of moments otherwise known as kairos. This is an important aspect because it is based on the fact that love and justice are human aspects which can never change.

The sixth principle is the ethical realism. In this case, there is need to distinguish or evaluate amidst norms and values what is that which holds lesser value or greater value. This is based on the belief that every solution ash got its own alternatives and the preferred should be on that which produces the lesser evil.

The seventh principle is the graded absolutism or what is known as ethical hierachicalism. In this case, there are situations when norms might conflict. In this case, it is important to seek the higher order values. That is we ought to choose the greater of any two goods. Lastly, what is known as the cognitive moral development theory. This theory is based on the fact that morality develops with time and interaction with information.

From this principle is it important to note that there are different levels of moral development which everyone has a level in which they operate. This implies that, for one to be able to emerge as an ethical person, it is important that one learns to engage the Socratic method of thinking. This is because this method offers solutions to dilemmas which might seem to be in conflict.

In conclusion, it is important that we noted that there are three major classes of ethical theories. These are the consequentialism, deontological theories and the ethical relativism. In reference to the movie, it is important to note that there are cases where the value of human life has been trodden upon and it is on this basis that the deontological approach to ethics needs to be put into proper perspective.

In cases where there is need to secure the right of a human being, the value of choice and the utility of that human being needs to be placed into proper perspective. It is therefore imperative that the issues such as environmental degradation, human rights abuse and terrorism which are highlighted in this movie be brought under the scrutiny of these ethical principles.

The big question

Why do these problems occur in the current society? That is the question which worries the minds of many people throughout the entire world. It is important to note or even to realize the fact that issues which emanate or have been associated with negative outcomes in places are based on policies which are formulated by people towards the sustenance of the lives of the masses.

It is of utter importance to note that values should provide the direction and impetus to act. It is only through this approach that invaluable policies and principles will be put into the right perspective thus resulting into realizing the goals and wishes of the masses. Insight into the causes of these ethical problems bring to the fore the following issues.

First the issue of lack of information, in the movie, it is quite clear that the time that these atrocities were taking place, it seemed as though none had the knowledge of the universal human rights which serve to protect the inferior in the society. Furthermore, it is worth noting that lack of knowledge is a major issue especially with regard to what is being taken place in the lives of human beings.

Secondly, the lack of proper values and principles among the elite. In this case, the leadership sought to benefit themselves at the expense of the masses. This meant that there were times when the rule of law was ignored in order to meet the demands of the warlords who were reigning at that time.

Essentially, when the principles of right and wrong, good and evil or what is ethical and what is unethical are put into perspective, the back stops at the people who hold the power to effect those changes and values. It is essential therefore to ensure that when the leadership lack ethical foundations then it is highly likely that the masses shall suffer the repercussions of the same.

Lastly, terrorism brings about these devastating effects. It worth noting that fear is a major component which waters down values and it leads to human beings believing that what is good might wait at the expense of what seems to be right and convenient at that particular point in time.


In conclusion, the question which lingers is, was the movie worth the effort? From my personal view, I think it did despite the fact that the movie vividly depicts violence, men killing each other; children being taught to fight and to struggle, and, as a result violence and cruelty, from an early childhood.

First, the film brings to light ethical issues which face African leaders and brought to light some of the probable solutions. Throughout this movie, one gets the feeling that despite the fact that this has been brought to light, there are other issues which are unethical that are taking place especially in the business world. There are situations whereby the business person is faced by situations where there is an ethical dilemma.

This implies that the prevailing circumstances limit his ability to purposefully establishes which choice to make or with route to take. In essence, in such kinds of situations, business persons have found themselves displaying as multiplicity of persons with regard to the way they respond to issues. In addition, the importance of the issues at hand should therefore spur the business person into the realm of evaluating which values are fundamental and which values can be ignored if not dropped.

This implies that one has to assess the objectives of the business in relation to the fundamental values that one holds. This is because the essence of decision making is based on benchmarks of understanding and ethical principles in business enterprises. Thus the most fundamental thing to do is to seek to understand what kind of deals one gets into and what are their moral and ethical obligations.

Each business person should seek to evaluate the moral impact the business has on the people it serves. Furthermore, it is very important to synchronize value based ethics and actions which sustain business enterprises. Through these ventures, the world one day will be a better place to live unlike a shocking reality of the Mende village. One day it will be come a pretty and idolized village in Africa.


Chirban, JT 1994, Ethical dilemmas: crises in faith and modern medicine , University Press of America, Maryland.

Ferrell, OC, Fraedrich, J & Ferrell, L 2010, Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making and Cases, Cengage Learning, California.

Frankel, LR 2005, Ethical dilemmas in pediatrics: cases and commentaries, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Howie, J 1987, Ethical principles and practice, SIU Press, Illinois.

Pojman, LP & Fieser, J 2011, Ethics: Discovering Right and Wrong, Cengage Learning, California.

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TheH0wl1ngC0mmand0s. "Ethical Concept in "Blood Diamonds" film by Edward Zwick." IvyPanda, 7 May 2019,

1. TheH0wl1ngC0mmand0s. "Ethical Concept in "Blood Diamonds" film by Edward Zwick." IvyPanda (blog), May 7, 2019.


TheH0wl1ngC0mmand0s. "Ethical Concept in "Blood Diamonds" film by Edward Zwick." IvyPanda (blog), May 7, 2019.


TheH0wl1ngC0mmand0s. 2019. "Ethical Concept in "Blood Diamonds" film by Edward Zwick." IvyPanda (blog), May 7, 2019.


TheH0wl1ngC0mmand0s. (2019) 'Ethical Concept in "Blood Diamonds" film by Edward Zwick'. IvyPanda, 7 May.

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