Analysis Of Robert Epperson 's Seinfeld And The Moral Life

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One of the most common criticisms of Seinfeld is that the characters and writing of the show are amoral . These critics may point to episodes like “The Marine Biologist,” where Jerry and George a purposefully lie to a woman about George’s career so that George may have a chance of sleeping with her. On one hand it’s tempting to dismiss these critics as nitpicking or misconstruing comic content, but on the other hand I feel that their claims are misguided. In fact, I have observed that there are in fact many ethical themes in Seinfeld, and I am certainly not alone in that observation. That observation is the crux of Robert Epperson’s article “Seinfeld and the Moral Life,” compiled in the 2000 book, Seinfeld and Philosophy. Epperson argues, as I will throughout the essay, that, “Seinfeld is largely about characters attempting to live a moral life.” This view has particularly informed this essay in that I feel that not only is the show largely about its characters attempting to pinpoint and act upon morally correct actions, but that each character has a unique philosophical moral system. As my example, I will demonstrate that Jerry acts with a particularly duty bound ethical system, which I describe as being deontological in nature, which appears to be influenced by the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant in particular. Jerry, throughout the series, acts in a way that could be described as utilizing a somewhat inconsistent, but generally deontological ethical

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