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Joker, one of the most controversial films of 2019, is based on the life of a man named Arthur Fleck, who lives with his mother and takes on the role of a husband and a son. He has a condition in which he laughs involuntarily but that happens when he sees societal failures and instead of crying he laughs. The film highlights how having just “one bad day,” can be the end of it all and drive a stable man insane. Arthur is a product of chaos due to a society with a lack of morals and civilization, with only the rich in power which causes Arthur to morph into a monster known as Joker. Arthur observes three of Thomas Waynes’s employees harassing a woman on the train. The woman glances at Aurthur in hopes that he will help her, but Aurthur ignores her and looks away. Arthur then started laughing uncontrollably which drew the employee’s attention from the woman to him. The three employees attacked Aurthur and proceeded to beat him. Arthur managed to grab his gun shot two of the employees out of self-defense and chased after the other to kill him. Arthur had a split moment of regret as he contemplated suicide. This is the moral dilemma of the film because Arthur’s actions would be justified because the employees were beating him and he had to defend himself however, he should have spared the life of the last employee. Instead, Arthur hunted him down and killed him until his bullets ran out. Fleck did not kill the last employee out of self-defense, he killed him because he wanted him dead. Arthur gains satisfaction in killing three of Thomas Wayne’s employees because, in the next scene, he dances in victory. The Joker is a moral nihilist because he does not consider his actions immoral and sees morals as nothing but a joke.

Moral nihilism is a form of subjectivism, a moral nihilist believes that moral principles are made beliefs and morals have no absolute or objective meaning. They do not believe in moral goodness, moral duty, or moral virtue and nothing is good or bad (Shafer-Landau 306). A nihilist views facts as real and values as nonexistent because values cannot be factual therefore they cannot be true and facts provide information whereas values do not. Moral nihilism has two different types of theories, error theory and expressivism. The error theory consists of three claims, there are no moral features, moral judgments are not true, and moral judgments fail to describe moral features (Shafer-Landau 307). Expressivism and error theory are both similar, the only difference between them is the fact that an expressivist rejects moral judgments as a way of describing moral features. The Joker is incapable of viewing his actions as right or wrong and states “I’ve got nothing to lose, nothing can hurt me anymore, my life is nothing but a comedy.” This quote does not just emphasize the Joker’s philosophy of life, it explains how he has no remorse and is not bothered by his actions. The Joker is not scared that his actions could either hurt someone or lead him into trouble, at this point the Joker has become immortal. The Joker could not distinguish between the world he envisioned in his mind versus what the world is actually like, this is comparable to having a dream and waking up to see reality for what it is. This is called metaphysical, which is part of the error theory, it explains what the world is actually like and what exists in the world (Shafer-Landau 310). The Joker ignores all moral values and laws imposed by society and creates his morals in which he decides what is good or bad, “Comedy is subjective, Murray, isn’t that what they say? All of you, the system that knows so much: you decide what’s right or wrong the same way you decide what’s funny or not.” This quote explains the Joker’s dark sense of humor because when he confessed to killing the three employees he laughed. He uses comedy in a twisted way to symbolize his morals. Expressivism states that moral judgments are determined by emotions and feelings are what move us to act (Shafer-Landau 315). The Joker’s actions were influenced by his emotions for example, he killed his mother because she betrayed him and killed a talk show host out of vengeance and anger.

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One could argue that Joker is a utilitarian because his actions were based on preventing harm in society. Utilitarians follow the principle of utility, which means that actions must be made to maximize the good whilst decreasing the bad as much as possible. Utilitarians believe that a person must be optimistic in making the right decisions that provide the best outcome and make society happy. The Joker killed three of Thomas Wayne’s employees because they bullied him and they harassed a woman. A utilitarian would justify his actions as right even though killing is immoral because they believes that any action is righteous as long as it brings happiness to society. Also, the employees could have been potential rapists or sexual predators and they used their socio-economic status to intimidate the Joker which they could have done to someone else. By the Joker killing them he has saved millions of people he could have been their victims. People in Gotham City saw the Jokers as heroic and the outcome of his actions benefited people and created the greatest form of happiness, “three less creeps in Gotham City. Only a million more to go.”

The reason why the opposing view fails is because the Joker does not believe in morals and cannot justify his actions if he thinks that morals are just a parody. The Joker does not care about producing the best outcome and bringing happiness to society instead his actions are made for his self-interest and benefit and society has failed him. He did not consider the consequences of his actions because he acted irrationally. The Joker’s actions caused havoc and violence, which led to suffering in society and he gained a sense of euphoria and excitement when killing which puts the lives of people in danger which is against the principles of utilitarians. Society has painted this picture that the well-being of people is equally as valuable as their neighbor, but the film represents a divided society where the well-being of the rich seems more important than that of the lower class and poor. This is why the Joker does not respect people in society “If it was me dying in the street you would walk right by.”A utilitarian would oppose this because they believe that the well-being and welfare of people are equally as valuable despite race or gender.

To conclude, the Joker is a moral nihilist although in the eyes of a utilitarian he is not. The Joker is a moral nihilist because he does not have any moral principles, and he does not question if his actions are good or bad, for example, he kills people and causes violence but does not consider that as immoral. Although the Joker is a perfect example of a nihilist, however, the utilitarian opposes this argument and strongly believes that the Joker is a utilitarian because his actions provided the greatest outcome. Utilitarians believe that actions should “make the best place it can be.”

To conclude there are two types of theories such as moral nihilism and utilitarianism that have conflict in determining which ethical theory the Joker falls into. It is quite clear that the Joker is a moral nihilist and he is a perfect example of a nihilistic person because he does not see any of his actions as right or wrong a moral nihilistic person views morals as nothing and the Joker does not have any moral principles. However a utilitarian opposes this argument because they believe that the Joker’s actions were made for the good of the people and benefited society in a good way. Utilitarians strongly believe that actions must be made to make the world the best place it can be.” How can a person argue with such a claim?

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