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Batman Dark Knight: Philosophy

In: Film and Music

Submitted By vinayty
Words 8400
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Edited by Mark D. White and Robert Arp


John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

To the memory of Heath Ledger (1979-2008)

Copyright © 2008 by john Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved Published by john Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New jerney Published simultaneously in Canada No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a reaieval system, or transmit­ ted in any fonn or by any means. electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scan­ ning, or otherwise, except as pennitted under Section 107 or 108 of the 1976 United States Copyright Act, without either the prior written pennission of the Publisher, Clearance Center, 222 Rosewood Drive, Danvern, MA 01923, (978) 750-8400, fax (978) sion should be addressed to the Pennissions Department,john Wiley & Sons,Inc., III or authorization through payment of the appropriate per-copy fee to the Copyright

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http://www.wiley.comlgo/pennissions. Limit ofLiabilirylDisclaimer ofWarranry:While the publisher and the author have used their best efforts in preparing this book., they make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this hook and specifically disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. No warranty may be created or extended by sales representatives or written sales materials. The advice and strategies contained herein may not be suitable for your siruarion. You should consult with a professional where appropriate. Neither the publisher nor the author shall be liable for any loss of profit or any other commercial damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. For general infonnation about our other products and services, please contact our United States at (317) 572-3993 or fax (317) 572-4002. appears in print may not be available in electronic Customer Care Department within the United States at (800) 762-2974, outside the

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10 9 8 7 654 3 2



The Oscar Speech

George Clooney Never Got to Make Introduction: Riddle Me This . .




Why Doesn't Batman Kill the Joker?

5 17

Mark D. White
Is It Right to Make a Robin?

James DiGiovanna
Batman's Virtuous Hatred

Stephen Kershnar


4 No Man's Land: Social Order in Gotham City and New Orleans


Brett Chandler Patterson

5 6

Governing Gotham


Tony Spanakos
The Joker's Wild: Can We Hold the Clown Prince Morally Responsible?


Christopher Robichaud



Bannan's Promise


Randall M. Jemen
Should Bruce Wayne Have Become Bannan?


Mahesh Ananth and Ben Dixon 9
What Would Bannan Do? Bruce Wayne as Moral Exemplar

1 14

Ryan Ind Rhodes and David K Johmon y yle



Under the Mask: How Any Person Can Become Bannan

129 142

Sarah K Donovan and Nicholas P. Richardson 11 12
Could Bannan Have Been the Joker?

Sam Cowling and Chris Ragg
Bannan's Identity Crisis and Wingenstein's Family Resemblance

1 56 167

Jason Southworth 13
What I s I t Like to Be a Bannan?

Ron Novy






Alfred, the Dark Knight of Faith: Bannan and Kierkegaard

1 83 198

Christopher M. Drohan 15 16
Dark Nights and the Call o f Conscience

Jason J. Howard
Bannan's Confrontation with Death, Angst, and Freedom


David M. Hart


17 18

Why Bannan Is Better Than Supennan

2 27

Galen Foresman
World's Finest . . . Friends? Bannan, Superman, and the Nature of Friendship


Daniel P. Malloy 19
Leaving the Shadow of the Bat: Aristotle, Kant, and Dick Grayson on Moral Education

254 267

Carsten Fogh Nielsen 20
The Tao of the Bat


The Clown Princes (and Princess) of

Casuistry and Categorical Imperatives

279 285

From the Secret Files of Oracie, Master

Indexer to the DCU

The Oscar Speech George Clooney Never Got to Make

We wish to thank the Justice League (Eric Nelson, Connie Santisteban, and the rest of the staff at Wiley) for their stew­ ardship and valuable input; Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham City Police Department Geff Dean and Blackwell), under whom this project was started; and Thomas Wayne (Bill Irwin) for his interminable assistance and inspiration. (Never fear, Bill's still alive-who would oversee Batwomon and

Phiwsophy if he weren't?)
Mark wishes to thank the legions of writers, artists, and editors who have made B atman come alive for him for decades; and Rob wishes to thank his wife, Susan (even though she's never written a Batman story-not even one!).




We know what you're thinking (because we're smart-we're philosophers):

"Batman and Phirosophy? Seriously? �y?"

is the most complex character ever to appear in comic books last seventy years, not only in the comics but also on animated

Well , since you asked. . . . Because we believe that Batman

and graphic novels. Because the stories featuring him over the and live-action TV shows and in movies, have provided us with had the chance, along with about twenty other fans, to combine our passion for the character with our love for philosophical mumbling, all to create the book you now hold (No need to thank us-we're happy to do it.)

a wealth of philosophical material to discuss. And because we

in your hands.

One reason Batman appeals to so many people around the world is that he is "just" a human being, even though he is

nothing like the rest of us. He has devoted his

entire life to

avenging the death of his parents and all other victims of crime by risking life and limb to protect his city of Gotham and beyond. He has spent years and sacrificed everything to train



his body and his mind to the point of perfection. He is wealthy beyond measure, but denies himself all luxuries (except a but­ ler) in pursuit of a goal that will never be attained. And he does all this dressed like a giant bat. (\Veil, that we can do, but that's about it!) What makes a person go to such extremes? Is what Batman does good, or right, or virtuous? And what does his obsession, his devotion to "the mission," say about who he is? How does he treat his partners, his friends, and his enemies? What is it like to actually be Batman? These are all genuine philosophical questions, and when we read Batman stories, we can't help but think about this stuff (and then write down our thoughts). The twenty chapters in this book explore issues of ethics, identity, friendship, politics, and more, using examples drawn from famous Batman stories such as

The Dark KRight Returns, Batman: Year One, No Man 's Land, A Death in the Family, and The KillingJoke, as well as the various movies, animated series, and yes, old churn, even the 1960s TV series with Adam W and est
Burt Ward. So whether you know every detail of Jason T odd's recent resurrection, or whether you can recite all of Jack Nicholson's lines from Tim Bunon's first Batman movie, or if you just have fond recollections of Halloweens past wearing the blue cowl and cape, there's something in this book for you. The Bat-signal's

shining-let's go!




.Hark D.

Meet the Joker
In the last several decades, the Joker has transformed himself from the Clown Prince of Crime to a heinous murderer with­ out rival. Most notoriously, he killed the second Robin, Jason 'f()dd, heating him to a bloody pulp before blowing him up. He shot and killed Lieutenant Sarah Essen, Commissioner Jim Gordon's second wife-in front o f dozens of i n fants, no less, whom he threatened to kil l in order to lure Essen to him. Years earlier, the.loker shot Barbara Gordon-Jim Gordon's adopted daughter and the former Batgirl-in the spine, paralyzing her from the waist down, and then tormented Jim with pictures of her lying prone, naked and bleeding. And let us not forget countless ordinary citizens of Gotham City-the Joker e\'en wiped out all of h i s own henchmen recentl ! J Every time the Joker breaks out of Arkham Asylum, he commits depraved crimes-the type that philosopher Joel





,, Feinberg ( 1 926-- 2 004) calls "sick! sick! sick!," or "triple-sick. 2 Of course Batman inevitably catches the Joker and puts him back through the "revolving door" at Arkham.J Batman knows that the Joker will escape, and that he will likely kill again unless the Caped Crusader can prevent it-which, obviously, he can't always do. So why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker? Think of all the lives it would save! Better yet, think of all the lives it would have saved had he done the deed years ago, just among Batman's closest friends and partners. Commissioner Gordon has con­ templated killing the Joker himself on several occasions, and Batman is usually the one to stop him.4 In a terrifically reveal­ ing scene during the


storyline, Batman is

this close


offing theJoker, and it isJim who stops him. Batman asks Jim, "Row many more lives are we going to let him ruin?" to which Jim replies, "I don't care. I won't let him ruin yours."s So though he may have considered it on many occasions, Batman has never killed theJoker, decidedly his most homicidal enemy. Of course, with the exception of his very earliest cases, Batman has refused to kill at all, usually saying that if he kills, it would make him as bad as the criminals he is sworn to fight. But that seems almost selfish-someone could very well say, "Rey­ it's not about you, Bats!" Or . .. is it? Should it be? Usually we think a person is obligated to do something that would ben­ efit many people, but what if that "something" is committing murder? Which is more important, doing good-or not doing wrong? (Ugh-Alfred, we need some aspirin here.)

In this chapter, we'll consider the ethics of killing to pre­ vent future killings, exacdy the problem Batman faces when he balances his personal moral code against the coundess lives that he could save. In fact, this issue has been raised many times, very recendy by both the villain Hush andJason Todd himself (returned from the dead), and earlier by Jean-Paul Valley (the "Knightfall" Batman), none of whom have the strict moral code that Batman adheres to.6 I'll do this by introducing some



famous philosophical thought experiments that let us trace through the ethics of a situation by whittling it down to its most basic elements, just like Bannan solving a cleverly plotted crime. (Well, not quite, but you have to let a guy dream!)

Is Batman a Utilitarian or Deontologist? l 7 H e questioned the preference for life over death: "How can I know that wanting to live is not delusion? How can I know that aversion to death is not like a homeless waif who does not know where to return? . . . How do I know the dead do not regret having longed for life at first?" I B

I suppose the resurrection ofJason Todd would be a good example ofthat?
Y es-who is to say that he is happier now than in his previ­ ous state?



Oh, poor Jason-he was so angry, so wild , so uncontrol­ lable-everything that Bruce could be if he doesn't maintain a constant check on his rage. Lao-Tzu wrote, "When beings climax in power, they wane; this is called being unguided. The unguided die early."19 Jason needed to learn control; we all tried to teach him that. Unfortunately, his mysterious return doesn't seem to have taught him much either. Chuang-Tzu WTote that "the perfection of virtue is to take care of your own mind in such a way that emotions cannot affect you when you already know nothing can be done, and are at peace with what is , with the decree of fate.'>20 But his fate remains to be seen, and I can only hope he can learn to accept what he cannot change; Bruce must learn this too, of course.

Ofcourse, we can't discuss Jason without bringing up his murderer, the Joker.
The Joker well, the less said about him, the better, I think. I'm sure others have much more to say about him than I could offer.21 But interestingly enough, I do remember, once Bruce said that Dick told him that "the Joker exists because of me. How I represent the order that is necessary to live in Gotham City and the Joker is the chaos that disrupts that order.'m That's another example of how members of a duality support each other (and of Dick's budding wisdom, I daresay).

I notice you haven 't mentionedAlfredyet.
Oh, I haven't? Well, there's . . . I suppose there's really not much to say about Mr. Pennyworth, except that he's a loyal servant, a trusted advisor-a paragon of humility. "Sages take care of themselves, but do not exalt themselves."23

A bit like you, Master
Oh, I suppose, yes. Actually, I've always regarded Alfred as quite the epitome of the wise man, or sage, of T aoist thought. After all, Lao-Tzu wrote that "sages manage effortless service



,, and carry out unspoken guidance. 24 That suits Alfred very well, I should think. Of course, he has put Bruce in his place on many an occasion, I should say.

Pardon me?

I'm sorry, just something caught in my throat.
Can I get you some water?

No, thankyou.
Now that I think about it more, it seems to me that Alfred embodies a very important concept of the T that ofwei-wu-wei, ao, or "action without action." Lao-Tzu wrote, "Do nondoing, ,, strive for nonstriving. 25 The wise man knows when to do nothing, and by doing so, does something. Alfred is of inesti­ mable aid to the Batman, but does so by simply seeing a clue that Bruce did not notice, a possibility he did not imagine, or some valuable insight that escaped him. Alfred's mind is open, and so he sees all at once. Chuang-Tzu told a story of a butcher who was so skilled he had never sharpened his blade in nineteen years. The butcher said that when he cuts up an ox, "the joints have spaces in between, whereas the edge of the cleaver blade has no thickness. When that which has no thick­ ness is put into that which has no space, there is ample room for moving the blade."26 Alfred is like that butcher, seeing what is there, and also what is not, which is often more important. "Sages never do great things; that is why they can fulfill their greatness."n Alfred is not the Batman, but Bruce would not be the Batman without him. Chuang-Tzu wrote, "Sages hannonize right and wrong, leaving them to the balance of ,, nature. 28 Alfred must balance the right and wrong within Bruce, tending to his health and his injuries, his joy and his sadness, his calm and his rage, trying to align them with the natural balance of things, the T ao.



It is a very difficult task that he has assumed, but that is Alfred's way, and he chooses to go with it, not against it. He reminds me of what Lao-Tzu wrote about water: "Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, nothing can with­ stand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible ,, overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. 29 Water runs gendy through your fingers but over time can carve mountains. It is patient, as is Alfred-yet another lesson Bruce could learn from him. As you know, many of the mar­ tial arts that Bruce has mastered over the years are grounded in basic T aoist principles such as flexibility and yielding-for instance, they teach one to use an opponent's size and energy against him. Would that Bruce took those lessons to heart in other aspects of his life! You know, Lao-Tzu wrote, "I have three treasures that I keep and hold: one is mercy, the second is frugality, the third is not presuming to be at the head of the world."lo I can imagine Alfred saying that too.

It's almost like hejust did.

Nothing, nothing .
Do you have something to say, young man?

No, Master, it's just interesting how you've gushed about Alfred, especially since a f minutes ago you "didn 't have much to say" ew about him.

Okay weit . thank you again, Master. It has been a most . iituminating discussion.
Y ou're very welcome. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some cleaning to do . . .



I. Shadow o [the Bat AnnUIJI #l (1995). 2. The exact details of Lao-Tzu's and Chuang-Tzu's lives, including their true identi­ ties (sound familiar?), are a mystery. The Tao Te Ching is widely believed (0 have been compiled from various sources around 500 BCE, and Chuang-Tzu's primary writings date back to around lOO BCE.

3. Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching. chapters 1 , 25, and 32. All quotations from this masterpiece can be found in The Classics: Volume One (Boston, Shambhala Publications, 1994), 1 2-47. are translated by Thomas Cleary and

4. See In finite Crisis #7 Oune 2006); the yearlong travels occurred during the 52 series (2006-2007), but were explicitly shown only occasionally. 5. Lao-Tzu, Ta. Te Ching, chapter 29. 6. Catwrmum #53 (Mar. 2006), reprinted in Catwoman: The Replact:ments (2007). 7. The mind-wipe was revealed in Hashback in Identity Crisis (2005); Bruce forgave her B. Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 55. in Detective Cumics #BJ4 (September 2007).

9. Mrn my teachings I had many masters, each with his own singular philosophy. My masters agreed on one point only: to be a warrior requires balance" (Baonan, in Batman Con jidentwl #B, October 2007). 10. Lao-Tzu, Ta. Te Ching, chapter 2. I I . Ibid., chapter I I . 12. The giant penny was lost during Catoly,.", (199B); the Aquaman episode occurred i G.tham Knights #1 B (August 2001).
I l. See Outsiders #49 (September 2007).

14. Tim's mother died in "Rite of Passage" (Detective Cumics #61!Hi2I, 1990); his father in Identity Crisis (2005); Stephanie in Batnum #6JJ (December 2004), reprinted in W ar Games Act T hree (2005); Conner in Infinite Crisis (2006); and Ban in The Flash: The Fastest Man Alive /Ill (June 2007). 15. Detective Cumicr #621 (September 1990); see also the last three pages of R.bin #167
(December 2007) with regard to the death of TIm's father.

17. Chuang-Tzu, ChUlJng-T chap,er l , p . 6B. The "Inner Chapters" o f Chuang-Tzu zu, are included in The Taoist Cl4ssics Voltnne One, 51-100, from which the translations [ quote are drawn, again translated by Thomas Cleary. These chapters are the most widely known and are the only ones attributable to the master himself. The unabridged Chuang­ vols. I and 2 (Mineola, �y Dover, 1962).

16. Lao-Tzu, Ta. Te Ching, chapter J J .

T including material appended by later scholars, can be found in The Tens a zu, /Taoism, lB. Chuang-Tzu, Ch1tong-T chapter 2, p. 64. zu, 19. Lao-Tzu, Ta. Te Ching, chapter 35.

20. Chuang-Tzu, ChUlJng-T chapter 4, p. 7l. zu, 21. Indeed, see the essays in this book by Robichaud, and Donovan and Richardson.



2 3 . Lao-Tzu, T Te Ching, chapter 72. ao 24. Ibid., chapter 2. 25. Ibid., chapter 63. 26. Chuang-T chapter 3, �7. zu,

22. Batman #614 (June 2003), included in H,,,h Volum, T (2003). wo

27. Lao-Tzu, Too Te Ching, chapter 63. 28. Chuang-Tzu, chapter 2, 60. 30. Ibid., chapter 67. 29. Lao-Tzu, Tao Te Ching, chapter 78.

The Clown Princes (and Princess) of Casuistry and Categorical Imperatives

Mahesh Ananth is assistant professor of philosophy at Indiana
University-South Bend. His primary areas of study and teach­ ing include ancient Greek philosophy, medical ethics, philoso­ phy of biology, and philosophy of mind. He is the author of

In De eme ofan Evolutionary Concept of Health: Nature, Norms, f and Human Biology (Ashgate, 2008) and "Spock's Vulcan Mind­ Meld: A Primer for the Philosophy of Mind" in Star T rek and Philosophy (Open Court, 2008). Mahesh secretly hopes to be
Batman upon Bruce Wayne's retirement, but he realizes that this is mostly wishful thinking in light of his present figure and the requirement of those damn tights!

Sam Cowling is a Ph.D. student in the Department of
Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. When he's not writing a dissertation on metaphysics and epistemol­ ogy, he spends his time anxiously awaiting the publication of

Man-Bat and Philosophy.
James DiGiovanna is a substitute professor of philosophy at
John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY and an award­ winning film critic f the or

T ucson Weekly.

He has written on

the aesthetics of fictional worlds, the ethics of neural implant technology, and the possibilities for self-creation in virtual space. He has also published a number of short stories, and was the codirector and cowriter of the award-winning under­ ground feature film

Forked W orld. Most importantly, he would



like it to be known that his relationship with Robin is purely professional and that the Batman's jealous assertions to the contrary are both unfounded and rather frightening.

Ben Dixon holds the William Lyon Visiting Chair in
Professional Ethics at the United States Air Force Academy. Previously he taught at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Professor Dixon has published articles on the topics of moral progress and the idea of human dignity. When not instructing college students or doing his own research, he volunteers at Arkham Asylum, teaching an "Introduction to Moral Reasoning" course. Continuously shocked by the num­ ber of Ns he gives the inmates' papers, he is starting to suspect that some of them may be capable of cheating.

Sarah K. Donovan is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Wagner College. Her teaching and research interests include feminist, social, moral, and continental philosophy. She hopes one day to found a college for superheroes and villains (hey, you need a degree to get a job these days).

of media and communication in May

Christopher M. Drohan earned his Ph.D. in the philosophy


from the European

Graduate School, Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Currently, Dr. Drohan is assistant director for the European Graduate School's Canadian Division, in addition to occasionally acting as an asso­ ciate professor for the school. An active writer and editor, he has published several scholastic works on philosophy, semiotics, and cultural theory. In his free time, Dr. Drohan puts on various costumes and prances about in the night.

Galen Foresman is a lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He teaches courses on contemporary moral problems, aesthetics,



and logic. He has a personal vendetta against fallacious arguments and is convinced that Michael Keaton was the best Batman.

David M. Hart is a graduate student in the Philosophy
Department of DePaul University in Chicago. His research focuses on the intersections between phenomenology, ethics, and politics, particularly as they occur in the thought of Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jean-Paul Sartre. He hopes his contribution to this volume will help justify all the long boxes of Batman comics that are still taking up space at his mom's house.

Jason]. Howard is assistant professor of philosophy at Viterbo
University, where he specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth­ century European philosophy and ethics. He has published articles in the areas of moral psychology, philosophy for chil­ dren, and social/political philosophy. At the moment Jason is applying to become a stunt double for Christian Bale in his third Batman movie; so far, no interviews.

Randall M. Jensen is associate professor of philosophy at
Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. His philosophical interests include ethics, ancient Greek philosophy, and philosophy of religion. He has recently contributed chapters to

Srmth Park and Philosop!.ry, 24 and Philosop!.ry, Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy, and The O ffi£e and Philosophy. He's convinced that Batman can rid Gotham City of evil only ifhe at last com­ pletes his training by following Plato's teachings and becoming the world's greatest philosopher-king.

David Kyle Johnson is currently an assistant professor of philosophy at King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. His philosophical specializations include philosophy of reli­ gion, logic, and metaphysics. He has also written chapters



on South Park, Family Guy, The O ffice, Batt/estar Ga/actica, Quentin T arantino, and Johnny Cash and will edit the forth­ coming Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series book on Heroes. He has taught many classes that focus on the relevance of philosophy to pop culture, including a course devoted to South Park. Kyle would also like to point out that the only true Catwoman is Julie Newmar, Lee Meriwether, or Eartha Kitt. In addition, Adam West did not need molded plastic to improve his physique pure West (tap your chest with two fingers when you say that). And how come Batman doesn't dance anymore? Remember the Bat-tu-see?

Stephen Kershnar is a professor in the Department of
Philosophy at the State University of New Y ork College at Fredonia. He has written two books: Desert, Retribution, and T orture (University Press of America, 2001) and Justicefor the Past (SUNY Press, 2004), and a number of articles on sex, violence, and racism. Psychiatrists have recently judged him to be more psychopathic than Harvey Dent and more fun than the Joker.

Daniel P. Malloy is an adjunct assistant professor ofphilosophy at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. His research focuses on twentieth-century critical theory (par­ ticularly that of Herben Marcuse) and its application to con­ temporary issues such as biotechnology and terrorism. Daniel frequently employs Scarecrow's fear toxins in his classes, particularly on exam days. Carsten Fogh Nielsen is a Ph.D. student at the Institute of
Philosophy and History of Ideas at the University of Aarhus, Denmark. His main interests are the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, moral philosophy, and the philosophy of popular culture, and he has published articles in Danish on all of these topics. He spends much of his time trying to convince other philosophers that comic books are cool, but despairs when having to explain "who that Frank Miller guy is."



Ron Novy teaches courses in ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind in the Philosophy and Religion Departtn ent at the University of Central Arkansas. It is unlikely he will ever con­ vince his wife that they should get a pet hyena named Giggles.

Brett Chandler Patterson teaches theology and ethics at
Anderson University in South Carolina. He has written arti­ cles analyzing moral responsibility in the Spider-Man universe, utilitarian logic in


and images of redemption in

Lost (also

published by Blackwell). His current research analyzes the fantasies of Lewis, T olkien, Wolfe, and Card. He wishes to be considered, if Christian Bale were to drop out, for the Bruce Wayne role in the next Batman film.

Chris Ragg is a Ph.D. srudent in the departtnent of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He is also one of the Joker's henchmen-or at least looks the part.

Ryan Indy Rhodes is a visiting lecturer at Stephen F. Austin
State University in Nacogdoches, T exas, while completing his dissertation for the University of Oklahoma. His research interests include ethics, warrior codes, and honor. A long­ time Batman fan, Indy is thrilled to see his first publication combine two of his favorite subjects. He is still waiting to hear a public apology for the movie

Batman and Robin.

Nicholas Richardson is an associate professor in the Departtnent of Physical Sciences at Wagner College in New York City, where he teaches general, advanced inorganic, and medicinal chemistry. When not teaching, he spends his time at work in the lab designing new chemicals for Batman's utility belt.

Christopher Robichaud is an instructor in public policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is currently finishing his Ph.D. in philosophy at MIT. When not teaching folks about the many moral issues



surrounding the political life, or writing about whether prop­ erties have essences, he's busy looking for a way into Emperor Joker's world. He'd like to pay a visit to his favorite supervil­ lain, though he reluctantly acknowledges that it's probably not the best place to live.

Jason Southworth is currently completing a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, Oklahoma, and is also an adjunct instructor for Fort Hays State University, in Hays, Kansas. He would like the world's greatest detective to figure out whose idea it was to have cute additions at the ends of our bios.

Tony Spanakos is a mild-mannered assistant professor of political science and law at Montclair State University and an adjunct assistant professor of politics at NYU . He has written many articles and book chapters on political economy, democracy, and citizenship in Latin America and coedited the book

Re fonning Brazil (Lexington


2004). He has been

a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the University of Brasilia

(2002) and is currently a Fulbright Visiting Professor at the
Institute for Advanced Policy Studies in Caracas, V enezuela. Local police in Latin America all agree that "he is always the first one to respond when we flash the Bat-signal."

Mark D. White is associate professor in the Department of
Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, where he teaches courses combining economics, philosophy, and law. He has written many articles and book chapters in these fields; contributed chapters to other books in the present series dealing with Metallica, South Park, Family Guy, and The O ffice; and coedited Economics and the Mind (Routledge, 2007). He is waiting for the "goddamn Batman" to kick New Earth Batman's ass (and good).


Abraham (biblical), 1 89-1 90, 196 abstract objects, 1B, 1 5 5 absurdity, 1 7 7 , 1 7 8 , 1 8 7 , 1 8 8 , 1 89-190,
1 9 1, 199, 206, 208

argwnent &om prevention, 1 04-105 Aristode, 2 3 , 29-3 1 , 95-96, 97 mendship concept of, 239, 241,
242-243, 244, 247

act-focused ethics. See deontology; utilitarianism actions, 29-32 &ee will and, 72, 74-79 moral responsibility for, 72-80 T aoist concept of, 275 utilitarian view of, 106 See also moral actions Adams, Ruth, 134-13 5 addiction, 78, 79
A ft""hock, 42-43 After V mue (MacIntyre), 2 3

moral education and, 255-256, 257,
259, 261, 262-263, 264

Arkham, Amadeus,
1 3 8-140

1 3 5-136,

Arkham Asylum, 129, 1 3 2 , 1 34-140

Azroel #2, 1 1 5

authenticity, 199-2 10, 220, 2 2 1 , 223 authority, 199-20 1, 257-258. See abo state autonomy, 260-265 Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley), 6, 52, 1 5 8

agent-neutraVagent-specific rules,
Alice� Adventures in W tmderltmd
9-10, 12

backward-looking moral reasons,
91-92 , 97

(Carroll), 1 3 5 alienation, 199 Allen, Bart, 272 alternate Earths, 97-98,

1 2 3 , 145,

146-148, 15 2 , 1 54, 160

balance, 36-37, 267-270, 273, 275 Bane, 30, 1 1 5, 158 bat as Bruce Wayne's totem, 205-206 subjective experience and, 1 7 1 a s symbol, 103, 1 32, 136, 1 3 8,
1 3 9-140, 159, 20 1, 205-206, 222, 223

ambiguity, 199 anarchy, 42, 48-54, 58, 63-64 Anarky, 63-64
Angrt, 220-224

Aparo, Jim, I B appearances and reality,
2 14, 2 1 6

176, 177,

a priori moral sense, 200 Aquaman, 246, 2 7 1

Batcave, 42, 140, 1 84, 222, 228, 270 Bat Fami/y, 240-241 Batgirl. See Cain, Cassandra; Gordon, Barbara Bat-Knights, 97 Batman A1&ed's care of, 1 83-197, 202




Batman (continued) authenticity and, 201, 208-2 10, 221-232 balance and, 267-2 7 1 , 273 basis of appeal of, 1-2 being vs. acting like, 167-178 canon of, 123 complexity of, 88-89 conscience of, 1 98-199, 200 as Dark Knight, 1 59-160, 208 determination of, 2 12-2 14, 22 1-222 dualities and, 64, 270 existentialism and, 188-189, 198 fear tactics of, 198-199 as fictional charaCter, 1 1 7- 1 2 5 fixed concept of, 162 Gordon's relationship with, 65�8 gothic and, 92 "grim and gritty" version of, 2 1 3 guilt of, 207-208 hatred of evildoers felt by, 28-37 as icon, 124-125 identity/persona of, 35, 129-141, 156-178, 201-205, 208, 2 10, 228, 240, 242, 245-246 inner circle of, 52, 1 59-160, 240-24 1 , 246, 273 Joker as identical to, 142-155 Joker as nemesis of, 71, 80 justice's meaning to, 185-186 kiUing rejected by, 6, 7, 10-15, 52, 68, 92, 1 57, 1 58, 1 64, 176 "kinder, gentler" version of, 2 1 3 moral code of, 6, 9 1 , 92, 199, 206 as moral exemplar, 1 1 4-125, 254-259, 260, 264 mortality and, 2 19, 2 2 1 -223, 224 motivations of, 55, 89-90, 103, 168, 1 9 1 , 2 1 3, 2 14-224 nonlegitimate actions of, 66--68 origin story of, 55, 59, 61, 85-99, 102-103, 108, 1 10-1 1 1 , 1 57, 159, 163, 175, 2 1 9, 222, 2 3 0, 240 parents' murder and. See Wayne, Dr. Thomas and Martha peak attributes of, 1 16-1 1 7 , 1 1 9

personal isolation of, 29, 35-36, 37, 2 1 2-2 1 3 , 240, 249, 271 personal traits of, 123-124 power source of, 170 promise made by, 86-99, 102-103 relationship with state of, 56-69 replacement of, 158-159 resolve of, 92, 246, 2 7 1 retirement an d return of, 64, 98-99, 158, 207 sanity of, 1 35-136, 1 3 9 Superman compared with, 227, 229-238, 240, 248 Superman's friendship with, 239-252 as Ubermensch, 248 unique calling of, 205 virtues of, 1 1 5-125 Wayne fortune and, 86, 101- 1 1 3 , 1 1 5, 1 3 1- 1 3 2 , 1 3 3 , 202-203, 270 Wayne's billionaire-playboy disguise and, 90, 102, 2 1 3, 245 women in life of, 29, 35, 1 58, 160, 2 12 , 2 1 3

Batmon (film), 55, 88 Batman: Anarlry, 63�4 Batman and Robin (film), 169 Batman Begins (film), 55, 89, 1 1 3n.2,
1 1 5, 122

Batman Returns (film), 87-88 Batman SupernuJn M""ie (film), 73 Batmon: The Animated Series, 1 2 3 Batman: T wo-Faces, 154 Batman: Year One, 32, 3 3 , 59-62, 68,
102-103, 1 1 3n.2, 129, 132-1 3 3 , 1 36, 157, 204, 222, 227

Batmon: Year T 61�2, 65, 68 wo,
Batrnobile, 19, 74, 228, 258 Bat-Tzu, 267-276 Batwoman (Kathy Kane), 160 Beauvoir, Simone de, 172, 1 7 3 "begging the question," 232-235, 2 3 8

Bemg and Time (Heidegger),
201-202, 2 1 5 "being-in-the-world," 187-1 88, 2 1 5-2 1 6 benefits-harms analysis, 1 0 7



Bentham,Jeremy, 1 5n.7, 20, 99n.l Bertinelli, Helena. See Huntress "better than" notion, 227, 228, 229 Black Mask, 44

Conrad, Joseph, 45 conscience, 198-2 1 0 consciousness, 93. Set also subjective experiences consequentialist ethies, 8, 20, 2 1 , 25, 26, 29, 99n.3, 1 1 1 promises and, 90-92

Blind Justice, 29
Bliidhaven, 261 Booster Gold, 160 brain, 170, 1 7 1 , 2 1 5 bravery. See courage "Bread and Circuses," 47 Brother Eye, 246, 269 Brown, Stephanie (Spoiler), 272 "Bruce W ayne: Fugitive," 246 Buddha, 1 14, 1 1 9-120 Burton, 'nm, 88 Butler, Judith, 1 41n.4 Cain, Cassandra (Batgirl), 52, 1 7 l Camus, Albert, 200-201 , 201 Captain America, 57 Carroll, Lewis, 05 Castle, Frank. See Punisher "Castle of the Bat," 1 2 3

Clmtagilm, 42 courage, B, 29, 1 1 5, 236-238 Crime Alley, 59

Crisis 1m In finite Earths, 1 55n.1

Croc, KiUer, 47, 49, 1 5 1 , 2 1 5 Cruise, T om, 14 Dalai Lama, 1 14, 1 19

Dark Knight, The (film), 73
"Dark Knight of the Round T able," 1 2 3

Dark Knight Returns, The, 28-29, 36,
56-58, 6 1 , 64, 66-67, 68, 98, I B , 1 3 0 , 1 3 5 , 1 36, 1 39-140, 1 5 7 , 165, 198, 207, 2 58-259

Dark Knight Strikes Again, The, 90,

Cataclysm, 42, 277n.12 categorical imperative, 1 9 Carwoman, 2 9 , 3 1 , 96, 2 4 1 , 269 causal responsibility, 73-74 Cavendish, Dr., 1 38-119 charity, 4S-49, 89, 1 06-109, 1 1 1 , 1 1 5, 202-201, 270 child rearing, 18, B-24, 262 Chill,Joe, 67-68, 190, BO Chilton, Mrs., 189 Chimp, Detective, 1 58 choice, 1 7l-174, 2 1 7-219, 2 2 1 , 2B Christian theology, 50, 1 H Christian, Father, 48-50

Dark Victory, 67, 68, 87 Dasein concept, 202, 205, 208, 2 1 5
Dawes, Rachel, 89, 90 death, 92-99, 2 1 9-2B, 273 acceptance of, 208-209, 220-22 1 , 224 authenticity and, 200, 203, 204, 2 1 9-22 1 postmortem harms and, 96-97

See also resurrection Death in the Family, A, 98, 1 06, 1 12 deism, 50 Dent, Harvey. See T wo-Face deontology, 8, 9-10, 14-15, 16n. 1 1 , 19, 2 1 , 25, 26, 99n.4 definition of, 9, 20, 29, 92 virtue ethies and., 22, 2 3 , 24, 10 descriptions, 147, 1 50, 1 5 1 , 1 52, 155, 162, 164-165 as comparisons, 229 desires, 77-78, 79 determinism, 75-76, 2 1 3 , 2 14, 2B-224

Christmos CIlTO� A (Dickens), l oon.6
Chuang-Tzu, 268, 273, 275 Clayfac 94 'e, Clown Prince. See Joker Cold War, 57 Comic Code Authority, 160 comparisons, 229-B8 concrete objects, 152, 1 5 3 , 1 5 5 Confucius, 26n.8



devotion, 1 8 5 , 186, 187 Dick, Philip K, 14 Dickens, Charles, 100n.6 disillusionment, 176 Drake, Tim (Robin), 150, 1 74, 265n.4, 268-269, 2 7 1 , 272-273 duty, 18-21, 186, 195, 200 situated freedom and, 173-174 supererogatory acts and, 1 08-109 earthquake, Gotham City, 42-43, 2 7 1 "Elseworlds" tales, 1 2 3 , 1 54, 1 5 9 , 1 60, 162, 2 18

Fear and T rembling (Kierkegaard), 185
"Fear of Faith," 48 Feinberg, joel, 5� fictional characters as abstract, 152-154 as moral exemplars, 1 1 7-125, 165-166 Finger, Bill, 86 first-order desires, 77-78, 79 Flash, 244

Flash, The, 277n. 14
Flass, Detective, B, 34, 35, 60 Foot, Philippa, 8 forward-looking moral reasons, 90-99 Foucault, Michel, 72, 130, 1 3 1, 1 3 3-134, 135 Frankenstein story, 1 2 3 , 1 5 9 Frankfurt, Harry, 75-76, 77 freedom, 172-175, 178, 201, 208-2 10

Emile or On Education (Rousseau), 200 empirical science, 2 1 4 "End Game," 48 environmental influence, 1 3 0 Epicurus, 94-95, 96 epistemology, 14, 76, 166 equality friendship and, 244-245, 246 moral, 103, 107 Essen, Sarah, S, 60 essentialist conscience, 200 eternal recutrence, 13 7, 13 8 ethics, 6-25, 185 definitions of, 18-19, 20

Angst and, 2 2 1 , 222 as Kantian moral value, 260 free will, 72, 74-79 determinism vs., 2 1 3-214, 223-224

insanity as inhibition of, 80 Freeze, Mr., 52 friendship, 239, 240-252 "Fruit of the Earth," 47 future consequences, I I I games, 161-163 Gandhi, Mohandas, 1 14, 1 1 9, 120, 1 5 8 Ghul, Ra's a i , 9 3 giving, 104-105, 1 06, 1 10-1 1 1 God, 129, 1 30, 1 B , 1 89-190 Golding, William, 45 Golonka, Big Willie, 62 Gordon, Barbara (Oracle), 52, 93, 159, 164, 1 71-172 as Batgirl, 5, 1 7 1 , 173 joker's paralysis of, S, 71, 73 Gordon, james, 6, 29, 52, 65�8, 103, 1 16, 132, 147 affair of, 35, 60 character traits of, B-34 Flass's brutality and, B, 34, 3 5

See also deontologyj utilitarianism; virtue ethics evil, 44 , 95 evaluative comparison, 229-2 3 8 Batman's hatred of, 28-37, 87, 89, 98 utilitarian approach to, 103, 1 1 1 existentialism, 187-189, 199-2 1 0 Fairchild, V esper, 2 9 faith, 1 8 5 , 187, 189-195, 196, 197 Falcone, Carmine ("The Roman"), 3 1 fallenness, 201-202, 204 family resemblance, 1 56-157, 161, 163-166 famine, 106, 108 "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" (Singer), 103 Fantastic Four, 2 1 2 Faulkner, William, 8 5



Gotham City's anarchy and, 43, 46-50, 52 Joker and, 5, 48, 71 public safety and, 56, 59, 60 successor 10, 58, 258-259 as virtuous, 3 1 Gotham City, 32, 87-90, 97, 1 0 1 , 1 1 7, 1 3 5-136, 177, 198, 206 breakdown of social order in, 41-53, 271 governing chaos of, 55-69 hopelessness of, 103 pervasive fear in, 92 Superman as savior of, 56 violent crime rise in, 57-58 gothic, 92 Grayson, Dick (first Robin), 18, 52, 1 50, 1 58, 1 64, 166n. l , 240, 249, 254, 257, 258, 268-269 autonomy of, 262, 263-264, 265 as Nightwing, 263-264, 272 personality of, 27 1-272 Green Arrow, 93 Green Lantern, 1 1 6

Hurricane Katrina, 4 1 -45, 5(}"'5 1 , 5 3 , 54 Hush, 6, 7-8, 10

Hush, 87, 89-90, 2 5 1 iconization, 124-125 identicals, 143-145, 146, 148, 1 49, 1 54 identity, 156-166, 188 construction of, l JO, 1 3 1-140, 202, 204 essentiality of, 1 5 6 identical vs., 143 necessity of, 148-150 situated freedom and, 173-174 14

Identity Crisis, 277nn.7,

Indiscemibility of Identicals (101), 144-145, 146, 149

In finite Crisis, 1 2 3 , 246, 277n.14 inner/outer world problem, 2 1 5-2 1 7 insanity, 50, 7(}"'7J, 79, 80, 1 38-139, 174-175, 178 as construction, 72, 1 34-1 3 5 internalization, 2 3 , 204 intrinsic values, 8, 20 irony, 1 89-190 Isaac (biblical), 189-190 Jackson, Frank, 1 79n.4 Jesus, 1 14, 1 1 7, 1 19, 120, 260 John, Gospel of, 188 Joker, 35, 44, 55, 69, 1 14, 1 3 1, 1J9, 140, 167, 170, 274 Batman as identical to, 142-155 as Baonan's nemesis, 7., 80, 242 Batman's rationale for not killing, 6, 7, 1(}"'15, 92, 1 12 , 176-177 Barman's similarities with, 168, 172, 173, 175, 176, 1 77-178 film version of, 88 goals of, 64 Gordon's shooting of, 48 heinous acts of, 5--6, 8, 20, 25, 36, 48, 71-74, 98, 106 insanity of, 66, 70-7 1 , 72, 73, 79, 80, 1 34-1 35, 175 moral responsibility of, 70-80

Groundingf the Metllphysics o Morals ",. f
(Kant), 16n. l l , 259-260 harms

benefits vs., 107 not experienced, 96

hatred, 28, 29, 3(}"'3 1 , 33-37 Hauerwas, Stanley, 50

Haunted Knigh� 87, 89 Heart o fDorlme" (Conrad), 45 hedonism, 94-95 Heidegger, Martin, 187-188, 201-2 10, heteronomy, 26(}"'26 I , 263, 265 Hinman, Lawrence, 109 2 1 4-224

History o fSeX"UlZ/ity, The (Foucault), I I I
Hobbes, Thomas, 42, 44-45, 46, 50, 59, 60, 6 1 , 62 , 63 Homer, 26n.8 human existence. See life humanitarianism, 48-52, 103 Huntress, 47, 49, 52, 159, 240, 254



Joker (ctmtinued) "one bad day" of, 1 67, 174-176 origin stories of, 79, 1 75-176 "Jurisprudence," 48 Justice, 87 justice, 69, 185-187, 190, 191 social vs. personal, 186-187, 192, 194-195, 196, 197 as virtue, 29, 30, 115 Justice League of America, 245, 246-247, 271 Justice Society ofAmerica, 57, 160 Kane, Bob, 86, 153 Kane, Kathy (Batwoman), 160 Kant, Immanuel, 16n.1 I , 19, 20, 26n.6, 99n.4, 176, 259-265 Kent, Clark. See Superman Kent, Conner, 272 Kierkegaard, Seren, 185, 187, 188, 189-191, 193-196 /(jllmgJoke, The, 70, 79, 167, 175, 178 King, Martin Luther, ]r., 200 Kingdom Crnne, 97-98 Knightf 6, 158 all, knights offaith, 192-195, 196 knights of infinite resignation, 191, 193, 194-195 Kyle, Selina. See Catwoman Laden, Osama bin, 200 Lane, Lois, 212, 240, 243 Lang, Lana, 67 language, 160-165 Lao-Tzu, 268-276 law, 131, 185-186 law and order, 56, 58, 66, 68 Lawless League, 160 Lazarus pits, 93 Lee, Jim, 153 Legends o the Dark Knight #1, 205, f 206, 207 Leviathan, 62 Leviathan (Hobbes), 44-45, 46, 50, 59 life, 215-219, 223-224 authenticity of, 199, 203, 208-210

balance in, 36-37, 267-270, 273, 275 innerlouter world and, 215-2 1 7 meaning of, 191-192, 196, 203, 222 reinterpretations of, 201-202, 203 as temporally ecstatic, 218, 219 as "thrown-project," 217 understanding of, 219 Loeb, Gilliam, 60, 61 Loeb,Jeph, 87, 88 Long Halluween, T 3 1 , 36, 87, 100n.6 he, Lord, Max, 15-16n.8 Lord o the Flies (Golding), 45 f Lost (television series), 45 love, 185, 186, 187, 192, 196 in balanced life, 36-37 friendship and, 243 selfless, 195, 197 loyalty, 185, 192, 195, 274 Luthor, Lex, 51, 53, 73, 117 Machiavellianism, 47 Macintyre, Alasdair, 22, 23 Madison, Julie, 29, 158 "Man Who Falls, The," 206 marginalization, 72 May, Aunt, 212 meaning, 191-192, 196, 203, 216, 222 metaphysics, 130-141, 143-155, 166, 177 Mill,John Stuan, 20, 99n.3 Miller, Frank, 56-58, 59, 97-98, I 13n.2, 123, 198, 222, 258-259 mind, 170, 214-215 "Minority Report, The" (Dick), 14 modal claims, 142-143, 145-149 modal properties, 153-154 Monk, 158 Montoya, Renee, 48 Moore, Alan, 70 moral actions, 8-10, 21, 23-25, 29-32, 188, 199, 200, 25 1 helping others as, 103-104 intrinsic, 8, 14-15, 23 promises and, 90--99 supererogatory, 108-109 use of wealth and, 101-113



moral code, 6, 91, 92, 129, 1 99, 206 moral education, 23-25, 255-264 moral exemplars, 1 1 4-125, 256-265 fictional characters as, 1 17-125,

historical, 1 14, 1 1 7, 1 1 9-120, 122 judging of, 259-262, 264 learning from, 2 56-262, 265 moral "innocents," 1 1 moral judgment, 1 0 1 - 1 1 3 , 199, 2 1 0 moral responsibility, 70-80, 103-1 1 1 authenticity and, 200 Batman's vs. Alfred's, 186-187 causal responsibility vs., 73-74 free will and, 74-78 insanity and, 7 1 -72 Morrison, Grant, 1 5 3 "Mr. Wayne Goes t o Washington," 4 3 Nagel, Thomas, 96, 170-172 names, 147, 149, 1 50, 1 5 1 , 152 Napier, Jack. See Joker natural disasters, 41-42, 45-57 narural order. See state of nature necessary condition, 1 57-1 59, 163, 164 necessity, 142, 145, 146, 1 5 0 Necessity of Identity (NIl , 148-149,
150, 1 5 1

objective world, 2 1 4, 2 1 5-2 1 6 Olsen, Jimmy, 240, 243 Oracle, 52, 93, 1 59, 240, 249, 254, 257 "Our Vision and the Riddle" (Nietzsche), 13 7 Outsiders, 272 Parker, Ben, 86 Parker, Mary Jane. Ask Mephisto Parker, Peter. See Spider-Man Penguin, 44, 49, 50, 52, 66, 1 1 5,
1 73-174

Pennyworth, Alfred, 29, 52, 63, 73, as knight offaith, 192-195

89-92, 147, 183-197, 240

New Earth, 146-148, 1 5 2 , 154 New Orleans. See Hurricane Katrina New Y ork City, 57-58 Nicholson, Jack, 1 70 Nich011tlJchean Ethics (Aristotle), 239,
243, 255


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