Prof. UG dr hab. Tomasz Widłak
University of Gdańsk
Abstract: The article analyses the film Inherit the Wind, directed by Stanley Kramer in 1960, according to a screenplay inspired by events of the so-called Scopes monkey trial, which took place in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee (US). The filmmakers recreated fairly freely the motive of the controversial ‘trial of the century’, offering the viewers an allegory of political events of the 1950s instead of historical accuracy. At the same time, it was a universal essay on the consequences of institutionalization of ideological and religious fundamentalism. The timeless appeal of Kramer’s motion picture can also be seen in the context of his positive commitment to legal ethics. The plot of the film is a clash of legal professionals, whose personalities are similar to two outstanding lawyers who actually participated in the monkey trial: William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow. Kramer’s film presents a positive role model of a lawyer, that is, defence counsel Drummond, contrasting him with the antihero: a lawyer and politician supporting the prosecution, called Brady. The film personalities of Drummond and Brady are reconstructed from the point of view of virtue ethics, using exemplarist moral theory by Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski, which enables giving a fuller picture of the created personages than in case of a deontic assessment of the moral validity of their individual acts.
Keywords: exemplarism, virtue ethics, legal ethics, virtue jurisprudence, monkey trial
Published: Number 1(26)/2021, s. 33-44.
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