Philosophy of High Noon

Harmony Cardenas

The movie “High Noon” has interesting comparisons to the philosophies and views of Kant. While many will say it can mirror the philosopher’s views, particularly through the actions of the lead character Kane, this paper will analyze the interesting and somewhat contrary view by looking at the actions of Kane’s wife.

It is important to note first that Kane’s wife is an emotional person. She is a religious woman, a Quaker to be precise, and chose this lifestyle after she saw her father and brother killed by guns. Her current viewpoints on guns, violence and personal involvement reflect her emotional side which Kant would clearly say as a weak point and completely differs from Kantian view.

Supporting her anti-Kantian ways is the fact that she focuses much on consequences. She does not see the act of killing simply for its act and the defensive purpose. She worries too much about who could and will die and not enough about why they would risk their lives to perform the act. Kant would say that she does not see the duty in the individual’s action and rather is heavily focused on how and what this may lead to no matter how unpredictable it is.

On the contrary, it is also important to note that Kane’s wife is an analytical person. She does rely on her reason to some degree to establish her own views on life. It is clear that she does not believe in killing because she finds it morally wrong in her religion, but she also analyzes the very human and mortal aspect of killing. She recognizes how worthless killing another man would be and that it would shatter all your moral standards in doing so. One may say she is merely acting in the teachings of God, but she has come to accept this at her own willingness and established these views after personal experience. Kane’s wife is not just another religious fanatic protesting self-justice and mortal/civilized laws. She is a woman that has great self-respect and is able to transfer that respect among all life so that she is clear of one thing: she can honestly and justifiably say that killing is wrong. She does have a strong moral basis.

By the end of the movie though, Kane’s wife takes a drastic turn towards Kant’s philosophy. She is able to set her mind free of worry and future analysis, and by doing so realizes the duty that she has of protecting her husband of him protecting her. She is willing to break her view upon kill to save her husband, though she does not break her moral. What she does is justified and a logical, moral act which Kant would promote for the simple fact that it follows the Ethics of Duty.

It is clear that the character of Kane’s wife is a dynamic one. She stays moral and true to herself through the whole movie, but how she defines this or how her actions define her is what changes. Though she does not lose her emotions to fulfill any actions, she is able to in a way push them aside and let them not interfere. Kane’s wife always had the underlining rules for the Ethics of Duty, but it took a clear, determining act at the end to truly allow her to express what she had and already knew.

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