Visions of Virtue in Popular Film

Joseph Kupfer

First Edition • September 1, 1999 • 248 pages

Print ISBN: 9780813367217 • $49.00 USD$58.99 CAN

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A work in both aesthetics and ethics, this book proceeds from the interplay of film and philosophy. It examines a group of first-rate popular movies to show how films which wonderfully entertain audiences also contain developed and important conceptions of virtue. By interpreting popular movies from this philosophical viewpoint the book deepens our aesthetic appreciation of film. At the same time, the analyses of film illustrate how narratives are essential to moral reflection by filling out and extending our understanding of moral life with the particulars of their characters and stories. The film interpretations can be read independently or as building within a series of ever-widening social contexts. Beginning with emphasis on the development of the virtuous individual (Groundhog Day), the discussion moves to romantic friendship (The African Queen), family (Parenthood), and then to cooperative community (Rob Roy). The concluding films are about virtuous individuals who must act within alienating social conditions: family and community are undermined (Fresh) or they have been eclipsed by economic forces and interests (Jaws and Aliens). Free of technical language and theorizing, the essays in this book should appeal to film fans and philosophers, in or out of the classroom.

Joseph Kupfer is Professor of Philosophy at Iowa State University where he teaches aesthetics, medical ethics, family ethics, and philosophy of law. He has written on such topics as privacy, lying, the parent-child relationship, violence, and sports. His two books are Experience as Art (1983), and Autonomy and Social Interaction (1990). His most recent work is on the aesthetics of nature, virtue and vice, and philosophy in film.

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