Feature Article: Situational Ethics

Topics: Morality, Sin, Joseph Fletcher Pages: 3 (983 words) Published: October 26, 2013
Breaking Bad or Good?

A sin, by definition, is an immoral act considered to be a transgression of divine law. But when, if ever, does committing a sin become justifiable? Brady McAlpine investigates this grey area of morality. Breaking Bad is a popular American television drama created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The central character of the drama is Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable, advanced lung cancer. He has been told he does not have long to live and fearing his imminent death, Walter hatches a plan to make a lot of money quickly in order to provide financial security for his pregnant wife and disabled son after he dies. Walter’s get rich quick plan involves teaming up with a former student to produce and distribute methamphetamines. The weekly story line of Breaking Bad, which is now in it’s fifth season, plots the moral dilemmas Walter faces in choosing illegal means to achieve altruistic outcome. He continually struggles with the fact that he knows that manufacturing and selling drugs is illegal and likely to cause harm to others, yet he forces himself to set aside his moral discomfort in order to accumulate funds to provide for his family with the ever present threat of his impending death hanging over his head. Breaking Bad effectively showcases how the multiple stakeholders in Walter’s world are impacted, both directly and indirectly, by his decisions. Walter himself is highly aware that by carrying out his plan he has immediately become a criminal and if caught will go to jail, shame his family and spend what little time he has left without their company. While Walter’s family are completely unaware of his illegal business dealings, they are indirectly affected by benefitting financially from his actions. By enlisting assistants to help him make and sell drugs, Walter is places them at risk of physical harm, jail time and a future marred by a criminal record. A further tier of people,...
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