IV “I Did It for Me”: Morality, Mastery and Meth

Recovering Lost Moral Ground: Can Walt Make Amends?

James Edwin Mahon and Joseph Mahon

Is it possible to recover lost moral ground? In the closing episodes of Breaking Bad it becomes clear that Walter White believes that the correct answer to this question is an affirmative one. Walt believes that he can, and that he has, recovered lost moral ground.

Breaking Bad may be said to explore two distinct and incompatible ways of attempting to recover lost moral ground. The first way is revisionist. This is to rewrite the script of what, morally speaking, has occurred, so that it appears that nothing wrong was done. Since no moral ground has been lost, there is no moral ground to recover. The second way is restorative. This is to admit to morally wrongful behavior, but to attempt to make amends for it. While we concede that it is possible to recover lost moral ground in both of these ways, we deny that Walt is able to do so in both of these ways. At best, Walt can only hope to recover lost moral ground by attempting to make amends for his past misdeeds.

Before looking at these two kinds of attempts to recover lost moral ground in Walt’s case, however, two defenses against accusations of moral wrongdoing will first be considered, since Walt also avails of these defenses. The first is the justificatory defense, that of seeking to justify the moral wrongdoing, so that it is no longer morally wrong. The second is the mitigatory defense, that of seeking to excuse the moral wrongdoing, so that the person is no longer responsible for the moral wrongdoing. As will be seen, it is not possible, ultimately,

J.E. Mahon

Lehman College, City University of New York, New York, NY, USA J. Mahon (H)

NUI Galway, Galway, Ireland © The Author(s) 2017

K.S. Decker et al. (eds.), Philosophy and Breaking Bad, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40343-4_10

to defend Walt against accusations of moral wrongdoing in either of these two ways, beyond a few cases.

 
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