On April 9, philosophy professor Joshua Baron came to our Hunger Games class to discuss the nature of evil. Before beginning his discussion, he wanted to make a distinction between three disciplines: psychology, sociology, and philosophy. All three areas of study have many similarities; however, their differences can affect certain attitudes towards The Hunger Games.
Psychology is the study of the brain. Sociology is the study of society and how people relate to one another. Both of these subjects utilize qualitative and quantitative data to present observations. Philosophy is looking at yourself without bias while relating your own experiences as data. This data is presented by thoughts instead of numbers.
Philosophy involves ethics and the study of morality. Every human has his or her own beliefs on what is right or wrong. There are three different theories of being “good.” The first is Utilitarianism, where morality is affected by feelings. For example, in The Hunger Games Peeta goes disobeys his mother’s orders and sneaks Katniss and her family bread because he has a crush on Katniss. The second theory is Consequentialism; the morality of the right action depends on the consequences and focuses on the possible outcomes. The third is deontology; the morally right action is independent of consequences and focuses on duties and obligations. Deontology tests the Formula of the End Itself, which basically states you should treat others how they want to be treated. A reality singing show, “American Superstar” is an example because judges tell terrible tone-deaf singers that they are talented. Similarly, the Formula of Universal Law says to “act only on the maxim through which you can at the same time will that it be a universal law.” This means to do what you think others think is right too. Do what is universally right.
Philosophy says you must pick a theory and follow it. Throughout The Hunger Games, all of these theories can be applied. When it comes to evil, evil must requires intent. President Snow and the Capitol create the most evil and the largest underlying conflict of the trilogy. They purposely hold the Hunger Games each year to punish the districts and remain in power. While each theory can be applied philosophically to The Hunger Games, the nature of evil defies the any moral compass.
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