Ethics and Film Noir

Ruth Starkman
PHIL 195
Core D3

Course Description:

Do you like dark films—dark, with shadowy images on the screen and murky moral outcomes? Are you drawn to dramatic plots and deep ideas, where it always seems like nighttime even in broad daylight? If you prefer films and philosophies about important human conflicts and feel intrigued, though perhaps queasy about characters, who perpetually succumb to their darker side, this course is for you!

Ethics and Film Noir invites students to examine ethical problems presented in a classic American film genre film noir, which arose during World War II and developed into a commentary on postwar American life. Departing from the optimism of Greek Virtue Ethics, Christian Natural Law Ethics and Deontological ethics, students will examine the choices of characters, whose weaknesses and irrational actions lead them into crime and error.

Faculty Bio:

Ruth Starkman received her PhD from SUNY/Buffalo in 1991. Her philosophical interests include the ethics, political and social theory and theories of culture. She has been teaching for thirty (!) years, is the author of three books, one on post war Germany, one on Martin Buber’s one state solution for Israel/Palestine and a forthcoming book on Hannah Arendt and Religion, as well as numerous articles on film, literature and education. Currently she is the higher education editor and blogger for the Huffington Post. In her spare time, she writes pulp fiction about morally stricken characters and practices Kung fu and Karate.