Ethics in Les Miserables Essay

928 Words Jan 16th, 2014 4 Pages
Business Ethics – Les Miserables Analysis
When faced with concepts like crime and punishment, there is a majority of people who would claim that the law must be obeyed under all circumstances, without any exception. It would actually be quite difficult to find someone who openly stated beliefs that criminals should sometimes get away with crime instead of being brought to justice. The character of Javert in Les Miserables is a classic example of an absolutist who believes in the supreme power of the justice system. This character proves that absolutism can actually cause underlying issues and moral dilemmas. This is one of the first ethical theories that is addressed in Les Miserables. Rule-based theory, also called deontological theory
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An absolutist who devotes his life to believing that redemption is impossible and the law must always prevail, and then discovers that this is not always the case, would probably not see any other options as viable.
Lying to help people, with arguably positive consequences, occurs by a character who would seem rather unlikely to lie, a Bishop. The act of generosity and kindness portrayed by the Bishop lying to the police in order to save Valjean, especially after the sins Valjean had already committed against the Bishop and the church, changes Valjean’s attitude. He decides to live his life as a redeemed man. The Bishop, who represents Christ and the Church, is acting generously and nobly, it is questionable as to whether or not he is actually acting ethically. He lies to the police, but in the process he saves Valjean’s life, which acts as the catalyst for all of the good, and even great, decisions Valjean makes throughout the rest of his life.
While Valjean occasionally uses utilitarian reasoning in his approach to ethics, he is more representative of a third approach to ethics, a virtue-based approach. If a deontological approach to ethics first asks “what does the law say?” and a…