Following Immanuel Kant’s moral theory, it is possible to divide actions into moral and immoral according to the idea of the categorical imperative, and the discussion of actions as moral or immoral strictly depends on their appropriateness to the determined maxima used by Kant to develop his theory.
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Gone Baby Gone (2007) is the film directed by Ben Affleck where the main characters have to make definite decisions which can be discussed as problematic from the point of morality. Patrick Kenzie is the main character who has to decide about the further life of the kidnapped girl Amanda.
The girl was separated from her mother Helene McCready, and she was brought up by Captain Jack Doyle who intended to provide Amanda with the better life conditions and more opportunities. Although the life of Amanda in the family of Doyle was rather harmonious and comfortable, Patrick chose to report about Doyle’s illegal actions in order to provide Amanda with the opportunity to live with her mother. Thus, Patrick made the right moral choice because of the maxima described in Kant’s moral theory.
The maxima of Kant’s moral theory are based on the idea of the categorical imperative and the person’s duty to act according to the universal moral laws. From this point of view, the person’s behaviour can be discussed as moral when any other person can act the same way in similar circumstances.
Moreover, if the person’s behaviour can determine the universal moral law, this behaviour or action is absolutely moral. Intentions or reasons can be discussed as the driving forces for acting morally or immorally. Focusing on Patrick’s action, it is possible to examine two opposite opinions on the morality of the character’s actions.
Thus, the life of Amanda in the family of Captain Doyle was almost perfect, and the intentions of Doyle were good because he wanted to demonstrate the better life to the girl. However, Patrick acted according to the principle of the categorical imperative. Police officers and the other involved persons act the same way in the situations when criminals kidnap children.
Boys and girls are sent back to their families in spite of the criminals’ intentions. From this perspective, Patrick followed the first maxim proposed by Kant and acted as the other people could act in the similar situation with references to the positive motives and without references to the possible negative consequences.
Furthermore, the actions can be considered as moral when they are universal laws for many other people who choose to act the same way. Looking at the situation described in the film from the different perspective, it is possible to assume that it is unnecessary to investigate the cases of kidnapping because many criminals can provide the kidnapped children with the better life conditions.
Thus, the pattern of avoiding the family problems with the help of kidnapping can be followed globally because such a situation is discussed as moral in the case of kidnapping Amanda.
Patrick ignored the proposed opportunities for Amanda which were presented on the surface of her relations with Doyle’s family, but he acted morally according to the principle of the universal law. Although Patrick’s decision can be discussed as controversial from the point of the final events demonstrated in the film where the poor parenting is accentuated, the main character’s action is right with references to Kant’s moral theory.