Actions Based on Intentions

6 June 2016

We all make decisions whether trivial or weighty. Life confronts us with situations where we have to choose between alternative courses. Decisions are important because the decisions we make either make or mar us. For one, we are a product of our decision as our lives can be explained by the decisions we chose to follow in the past. Apart from this, we live in a world where in our quest for survival, we relate with people.

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These people are therefore affected by the decisions we chose so we should seek to make the right decisions. Depending, on the way we view it, there are two ways of evaluating our actions. It is either we see them as right because they have good consequences or they are intrinsically good.

In this essay, I will be considering a moral decision made by an actor in a film I watched recently. In Prison Break, Michael Scofield decided to rescue his brother Lincoln Burrows, who is on convicted because he was allegedly found guilty for the brutal murder of the vice president’s brother. Although nobody believes him, he claims that he is innocent. Scofield later got wind of information that made him believe that his brother is innocent of the crime was sentenced for.

Coincidentally, the facility that his brother was kept was designed by his company and he was part of the people that designed it. Michael took drastic measures by getting arrested and he was sent to the same facility so that he can escape with his brother. The rest of the film is about how they escaped, the obstacles they faced, the life that had to be lost because of this plan and the hurdles that had to cross.

After I finished watching the third session, seeing the lives that were lost, the people that had to pay the price, the pain it caused, I began to raise question about Michael’s actions. I began to question the morale behind his action.

To begin with, I believe that his act is intrinsically bad. Laws are made by the society to create order in the society. When such laws are broken, the order is lost and this creates a sense of deviance in people. It becomes worse when such laws are broken intentionally. As regards the movie, I believe that the decision made by Michael Scofield is wrong. This is because he is bound by the law. Whether he feels that the judgment made by the court is right or wrong, should understand that the law is supreme. There is a due process that he can follow in order to reverse the decisions of the court.

Using the Kantian ethics as a model in this situation, I will say that his action to escape from prison with his brother raises a fundamental question. Although we hold a duty to our family and the society but which is higher? This is where Scofield missed the point because the society overshadows the individual. Kant says that our action must be guided by a sense of duty – duty to who? The duty has to be to the society because the society is bigger than the society.

In addition to this, Kantian ethics says that we should treat people as an end in themselves and never as a means to an end. In the movie, Michael used some people as a means of getting out of prison. For instance, he used Sarah Tancredi as means for their getaway. This action is considered wrong when we evaluate it from the canon of Kantian ethics.

Furthermore, Michael Scofield’s motive is intrinsically wrong. His motive was to break into a prison facility and to escape with his brother, no matter what happens. Although appealing, his motive is wrong. This is because his motives for deciding to do what he did conflicts with his civil obligation. For one, there is nothing that can make his actions right. Breaking the law is wrong and that is all to it.

Therefore, as human beings, we should come to terms with the fact that we do not need to wait for the consequence of an action before we know the rightness or wrongness. An action is intrinsically wrong even if it produces good consequences.


Webpage of The international movie database. Retrieved on 9th December, 2008. from  http:/

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