Friday, March 7, 2008

Ethics & TV Shows

There are several books published on topics such as the Simpsons and Philosophy, Seinfeld and Philosophy, The Matrix and Philosophy, and so on. I wonder when someone will publish one on "Jericho" and Philosophy.

There are Hobbesians, Lockeans, egoists, virtue theorists, you name it, among the characters. Questions about loyalty, friendship, fear, trust, responsibility, and a host of other issues are either explored or prominent in that television series. I've been thinking recently of making it the theme of an upcoming class in ethical theory, and calling it something like "Jericho and Ethics" or "Ethical Theories applied to Jericho," or something of the kind.

Another possibility is to design an element of the course such that the students to create their own "Ethics and ..." content, revolving around some entertainment-related theme. In this way, they would be able to explain, analyze, and apply theories to issues, problems, and content in the television show, movie, song, video, or book of their choice. It might also be possible for a student to combine media-related content with different theories. For example, a student might deal with Hobbes using "Jericho"; with Locke using "Lost"; with Aristotle using "Desperate Housewives," or any number of possibilities. One of the problems with this, however, is that I watch very little television, so it might prove difficult to evaluate student work with such things unless they are very clear in explaining plots, characters, situations, etc. Most such shows, however, and perhaps all of them, have their own Web sites, in which case it would be possible at least to see some element of almost anything a student would choose.

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