The Unforgiven Essay
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For the final essay, the movie I will be writing about is based on the Clint Eastwood’s movie “Unforgiven.” Clint Eastwood portrays a story of William Munny, a killer and aging outlaw who has taken up one more job after years of external and internal peace. In the movie, the plot begins as to why William does decide to come back for one last rendez-vous with death. Taking place in Big Whiskey, Wyoming, a group of prostitutes, led by Strawberry Alice, offer a $1,000 reward to whoever can kill “Davey-Boy” Bunting and Quick Mike.
The reason that these bounties were places is because these two individuals disfigured Delilah Fitgerald, a prostitute who is one of their own. An important factor to keep in mind in this situation is that the prostitutes greatly exaggerated the factual events that transpired, and the story that was sent out to the public “bounty hunters” was based on a major over exaggeration and so much to that point that it was not factually based.
However, the idea of these bounty that was sent out by the prostitutes upsets Little Bill Daggett, the local sheriff, who himself was a former gunfighter but is not a converted keepers of peace who has taken the law upon himself and has dis-allowed guns and criminals in his town. What Little Bill does in this town is take the law into his own hands. While there is some sort of legal system in place in this town, the prostitutes have no rights under the system and according to Little Bill, it is up to him to decide what should be done in this situation.
He is always taking the laws in his own hands. In this specific case, Little Bill gives these two men leniency despite the crime that they have committed. Will, hearing the over exaggerated version of the factual events, decides to come to this town and hunt and kill these two men not only for retribution for the prostitutes but to also collect the reward money. Using the reasoning of Kant, Mill, and Aristotle, I will analyze this entire current situation in the movie and using these different thinkers then compare and contrast who would agree with each other and who would disagree with each other.
The first thinker I will bring up is Kant. The first issue that comes up in the state situation is justice which then leads into the rest of the problems presented in the beginning of the story. What the prostitutes did to Will is actually manipulate him because what the factual events was greatly differed that the story that was presented to him. As a result, Mill was manipulated into making his decision to help solve the prostitute’s problem, and by him being manipulated into making this decision the prostitutes took away his free choice. Immanuel Kant is against taking away people’s free choice. There are three imperatives that are used by Kant to determine if a certain deed should be done. The three imperatives include the universal law based on principle, the means end formula (never treat anyone as a means but always as an end), autonomy formula (act in accordance to the maxim of a member that legislates the law)or the people who make the law are moral and thus the laws must be followed.
When taking in consideration the universal law, what Kant is saying is that the acts act according only to maxim and thus must be applied to everybody. In this situation, the following maxim could be read as “if a prostitute is attacked, then it is ok to pay for someone to come in and seek vengeance.” The maxim for the prostitutes is to pay for justice and if applied to everyone this maxim would definitely not work and the world would become more chaotic and dangerous if this were a true maxim. The second part of the imperative deals with the means end formula. This states that one should never treat anyone as a mean but always as an end. In other words, do not use someone just for your benefit at the expense of another person’s but at the same time the other person should be getting something back in return that they need.
All information needs to be presented in a factual way to help the person make a decision that they really want. With this being said, the prostitutes are using Will merely as a mean because what they did was lie to him. By exaggerating the truth, the prostitutes manipulated Will and use him as a mean to get justice among themselves. While there was indeed a reward for him, his decision to do this for the money was based on a wrong assumption because he was told a lie. His free will was taken away to make this decision because he was told the truth about what happened and if he did know the actual true events he may not have made the decision that he made.
The last part of Kant’s three imperative is the autonomy formula. The autonomy formula talks about how acts should be followed according to the maxim that regulates law because the people that make the law are moral thus they should be followed because moral acts will help build a moral society. However, the prostitutes would not have to follow the law based from Little Billy because this certain law was made from an immoral person and thus since it comes from an immoral person that only means that the law will be immoral.
The next thinker that we will use to examine the following situation is the great mind of Mill. Mill says that a right is an expectation that society will help protect other people’s rights. Just can vary from each person and that the difference that does exist in society means that there is a different kind of equality. Utilitarianism is what brings the ideas all together. This states that if the majority of the people are happy then the act or deed should be done. The idea presented my Mill in utilitarianism is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain. In the following situation from Clint Eastwood’s movie, Mill would don’t condone what has occurred because it is unjust to deprive anyone of anything that is legally their liberty or property.
It is unjust to kill the two cowboys because he was never convicted of the crime that he did commit. The prostitutes should have had rights, and the two cowboys should have their voice heard in a trial. Mill would say that there is a bad law in place towards these prostitutes and the sheriff has rights in this town that he should not have. According to utilitarianism, it is wrong to harm certain individuals in order to make other people happy. In this instance, Will is killing these two individuals because this will make the prostitutes happy. John Stuart mill would be against this and so for Will to go and kill these two men is wrong in the eyes of the great philosopher Mill.
The final thinker that will be used to examine the following situation is the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. To Aristotle, the law should be respected and if you do not respect the law then what you are doing is rejecting the government. The sheriff in town has placed un-just laws to the people. However, if these laws are not followed then what the people are doing is doing un-just to the community. To Aristotle, in order to have properly fixed the problem is that there needs to a mediator, one whom is un-biased and will look at each individual case down the middle and determine whether or not a disciplinarian action needs to occur. There needs to be the right to a trial for a person to be properly convicted.
This directly relates to the two cowboys who were punished without the mediator and “their day in court.” Aristotle would also say that the prostitutes should have right and the males who committed the crime should be trialed by law and a proper punishment, if any, would be warranted by an un-biased mediator of who would not include Little Bill. He is a very biased individual and Aristotle would be very against him and the actions that he is placing on society. To Aristotle, it will be no surprise to have heard that Will would take this job and to go back to killing. To Aristotle, it is very hard to break a habit that one did for so many years. Aristotle would not say that Will does an evil behavior, but instead Will has bad character traits.
The habits he grew up with were not very good with the constant killings he did. As he killed more and more he got into the habit of killing, and for him to break this bad habit of killing is only going to get harder and harder as he not only kills but gets older continuing to kill. Deep down he already knew how to kill, and when the situation presented him his old habits came out and decided to go back and kill again. Aristotle would be against Will’s killing because it is not adding to his own happiness . These acts are immoral and his happiness is not reaching his full potential with the action that Will has done to these two other cowboys.
After going over what the three great philosophers have said about the same situation, in my opinion Aristotle and Mill agree with each other the most because they both say how you need the community to be happy. They both correlate with each other. Aristotle is about the action itself and this directly disagrees with as to what Kant believes. This is why Aristotle and Kant both disagree with each other the most. As Aristotle is more about the action itself, Kant is all about the intent of the action. Aristotle and Mill would again agree because he says that the prostitutes should have rights and that the males should have been held on a fair trial. This eliminated the sheriffs and what he feels right according to himself and instead there would be a non-biased individual who will not already be prone to one side or the other like Little Billy was evident by his actions in the movie.
In conclusion, Mill, Aristotle, and Kant all have some similar but different points about how the same situation should have been handled. Some were similar, and others were very different. It is my opinion that I agree most with Aristotle. He talks about having a non-biased individual (the judge in today’s society) and how everyone deserves rights including the prostitutes who had no rights in the movie. He is against Will going to kill for vengeance and also agrees with how people who have too much power and make immoral laws should lose that power for the benefit of the community. Ultimately, I agree with all of them because they bring up different but valid point.
In the end, I agree the most with Aristotle because what he says is very similar in what steps would be taken in modern society today. With this being said, justice is still very unfair in today’s society. There are still these bounty killings and many of them do get away because of a lack of evidence or some other cause that prevents a judge from getting a conviction. Nevertheless, justice is many times unfair in today’s modern world, but improvements are being made and the judicial systems are doing the absolute best job they can do to bring justice to criminals and to get modern bounty hunters off the streets to make society a better and nicer place to live in.