Midterm in Ethik

Mid-Term Exam, Tobias Deml, Ethikklasse am SMC.

Mid-Term Exam, Tobias Deml, Ethikklasse am SMC.

Ein Midterm ist eine Prüfung in der Mitte des Semesters. In unserer Ethikklasse am SMC besteht der Midterm aus:

  1. Takehome portion
  2. In-Class Portion: Open book / open notes exam

Mit “Takehome portion” ist ein Essay gemeint, das wir zu Hause verfassen müssen und das gemeinsam mit der “In-Class portion” abgegeben wird. “Open book / open notes” bedeutet, dass man die Bücher bzw. Aufzeichnungen, die man während den Stunden gemacht hat, konsultieren kann.

Das macht das Lernen natürlich viel einfacher, die Prüfung selbst hat dann allerdings doch relativ trickreiche Fragen. Schwierigkeitsmässig würde ich sagen, für eine Philosophieklasse: 7/10 Punkte. Nach mehreren kleineren Quizes ist das die erste grössere Prüfung während dem Sommer.

Wir müssen in ein blaues Exam-Book schreiben, ich kritzle drei Seiten voll mit philosophischen Überlegungen; die In-Class portion besteht aus 10 True/False Fragen und drei längeren Fragen, die wir im Detail beantworten müssen. Sie sind so geschrieben, dass man ein Verständnis für die Materie haben muss und mit den reinen Aufzeichnungen prinzipiell nichts anfangen kann.

Note: B+

Takehome: 40/50P, In-Class:46-50P, macht gesamt 86/100P.

Als Takehome-Portion war ein Szenario gegeben, das wir in drei Wegen lösen/interpretieren sollten. Hier ist meine Antwort (inklusive einer Nacherzählung des Szenarios):

Takehome-Portion “The Moral Dilemma of a Movie Director”


I am a very ambitious, professional director in Los Angeles and eventually find my way in the “High Society” of filmmakers in Hollywood. On a party, I meet actor John Trovalta and he agrees to star in my breakthrough blockbuster. A couple of months later, while we are in preproduction, he takes me aside and confesses to me that he hired a hitman to kill his wife’s ex-lover – and that it would be impossible for the police to trace the murder back to him. Now I ask myself, shall I stay quiet or shall I report his criminal intent to law enforcement?

Non-Consequentialism is concerned with the nature of an action – an action may be good or bad depending on the type of action, regardless of its consequences.

Hello, my name is Immanuel Kant, and I am a soon-to-be famous movie director. The star of my movie that will catapult me in the hall of fame for moviemakers just told me about his plan to let someone murder his wife’s former lover. I therefore behold a criminal secret. And, since the crime did not happen yet, I am even able to save an innocent person. It is unacceptable to behold a criminal secret. It is my duty to save an intrinsically valuable life – so I am obliged to report John’s plan to the police in order to act morally correct.

Consequentialism revolves around the question whether consequences of a certain action are good or bad. Basis for a moral decision is the impact an act may have on the long run.

Hello, my name is John Stuart Mill, and in a few months I will be one of the big players in Hollywood. Unfortunately my ticket to fame, actor Trovalta, faced me with a dilemma: He told me that he hired a professional killer to murder his wife’s ex-lover. It is clear to me that if I keep the secret I inadvertently become part of the crime and may face criminal charges. Involving myself into a murder case – maybe even serving a sentence for it – would not just ruin my personal reputation but ruin my career as a whole.
For the case that I decide to tell the police, it will cost me the financing of my first breakthrough film (it is likely that the movie got mainly financed because Trovalta would star in it), it may throw me back a couple of months or years in my career, but in the end it enables me to legitimately pursue my career as a movie director.


The non-consequentialist approach is clearly what I my conscience would tell me. Since I have to live with my conscience for the rest of my life, I would follow its advice (which, paradoxically, is quite a consequentialist idea). I also support the consequentialist argumentation – for me, that were what my career sense would be telling me.

Both argumentations leave one factor out, namely the importance of greed and human relations. I try to avoid greed in my personal life as much as I can, but I am aware that this decision would be much harder in real life than it is when I am staging the scenario in my head. The mere fact that I would be so close to my target when this famous actor decides to let me know about his evil plans would make me feel betrayed by destiny.

In the end, I think I would be neither guided by my conscience nor by my business sense, but by a principle of my attitude towards life: I want to regret nothing. Being thrown back in a career sense is a tiny damage to my pride; but saving a life by putting myself at risk of negative consequences is a heroic act which I can be proud of until I die, no matter if I live the life of a moviemaker or of an unemployed beggar.
So to say, it is the wish of living a virtuous life that triggers my decision in this scenario. Additionally, my conscience and my rational business sense are supporting my point of view.

About the Author

Tobias Deml is an Austrian Filmmaker and Visual Artist. 2012 Cinematography Reel: http://vimeo.com/53973421 Tobias Deml ist ein österreichischer Filmstudent und Möchtegernregisseur in Los Angeles. Er arbeitet derzeit als Kameramann in Los Angeles und popelt in seiner Nase.