Pavlos (pavlos) wrote,

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The Corporation (7/10, -1 irrelevant), and some moral philosophy

I saw The Corporation. Good points:

  • Sound motives and scope.
  • Well-presented, if circumstantial, evidence.
  • People speaking candidly, good and bad.
  • Noam Chomsky.
  • Michael Moore.

Bad points

  • Jarring camera work.
  • Lack of coherent central argument.
  • Emotional, at times comical, presentation.
  • Preaching to the converted (unlike F911).
  • Long.

Overall it was a good effort, if somewhat irrelevant. I doubt that anyone who doesn't already espouse the filmmakers' views will see it, and it offers little by way of resources to the already converted bunch.

However, there is one important aspect of moral philosophy that I think the film mishandled, or rather missed a brilliant opportunity to tackle. Pervasive throughout the film is the idea that corporations, and even the people who manage them, are not evil, but in fact grossly indifferent. They are not out to hurt people, or the environment, out of malice, but they simply subordinate those concerns to the profit motive. The filmmakers imply that we have created a vacuum of responsibility and that "terrible machine" (machine implies something devoid of morality) needs to be somehow stopped.

I disagree, and I think this basis of argument is a grave moral oversight. Throughout our civilisation, ethics has defined indifference, not malice as a moral crime. A thief or robber is not motivated to deprive his victims of their possessions, but is simply indifferent to the victims' needs and safety compared to his selfishness. A rapist or child molester is probably indifferent to the suffering of the people he uses for his gratification, rather than deliberately intent to hurt them. Aside from this selfish indifference, thieves, rapists, and CEOs are generally very nice people.

It is indifference in pursuit of rational selfishness that the law punishes, in every other area but business. In fact, on the rare occasion that a criminal can convince the court that he was motivated by irrational hatred he is absolved and treated in a mental institution. Thus, arguing that there is a vacuum of responsibility is unproductive if one wants to look at the issue from a moral (as opposed to a purely practical) perspective. Destroying responsibility should be regarded as an extremely evil practice.



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