Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series)
Mark D. White, William Irwin
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Alan Moore's Watchmen is set in 1985 and chronicles the alternative history of the United States where the US edges dangerously closer to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Within this world exists a group of crime busters, who don elaborate costumes to conceal their identity and fight crime, and an intricate plot to kill and discredit these "superheroes."
Alan Moore's Watchmen popularized the graphic novel format, has been named one of Time magazine's top 100 novels, and is now being made into a highly anticipated movie adaptation. This latest book in the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series peers into Moore's deeply philosophical work to parse and deconstruct the ethical issues raised by Watchmen's costumed adventurers, their actions, and their world. From nuclear destruction to utopia, from governmental authority to human morality and social responsibility, it answers questions fans have had for years about Watchmen's ethical quandaries, themes, and characters.
world long before his physical departure, as his partner Laurie Juspeczyk, the second Silk Spectre, would readily acknowledge. As a result, Dr. Manhattan no longer ﬁnds much value in the human race; in particular, he ﬁnds it difﬁcult to care about the pressing problem immediately confronting it, that of possibly having to endure a nuclear war, the threat of which is, in part, due to his decision to take up residency on Mars. What exactly is going on with Dr. Manhattan? We’ve just made three
Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785), trans. Jonathan Bennett (2005), online at www.earlymoderntexts.com, Second Section. This quote appears on p. 421 of print editions (with standard Academy pagination). 16. Ibid., p. 429. 17. Watchmen, chap. VI, p. 26. 18. Alan Moore and David Lloyd, 1982–1985, V for Vendetta in Warrior, issues 1–26 (Brighton, UK: Quality Communications). 19. Alan Moore and David Lloyd, V for Vendetta (New York: Vertigo, 1988), p. 6. 20. BBC Bristol, Comics Britannia
graphic novel in two-thirds or onehalf the number of pages), you would likely lose signiﬁcant artistic effects, such as the surprise created by the appearance of Rorschach on page 4 of chapter V. For example, imagine that page 3 and page 4 of that chapter were printed facing each other, rather than back-to-back—the effect of seeing Rorschach after the “BeHinD you” note would not be nearly as strong. Another essential aspect of the book to consider is the lettering. As any devoted comic book
early frilly costume to a more practical (and masculine) one mirror the shift undergone by her father, the Comedian, during his career. In true androgynous fashion, Laurie becomes like her father as well as like her mother. Silk Stockings and Silk Spectres While Sally’s and Laurie’s actions may be motivated by liberal feminism, their costumes, Sally’s in particular, contradict it. A liberal feminist believes that women and men are equal and that this equality alone is enough for women to achieve
Rorschach. His motives are pure; it is about justice, right, and the moral order. In this way, he reﬂects what is desirable about retributivism: the guilty must be punished because they are guilty, and their punishment should be proportionate to their crimes. This sentiment is common, even if its justiﬁcation is difﬁcult to articulate. c02.indd 21 12/3/08 8:05:29 PM 22 JACOB M. H E LD Retributivism comes in many different varieties, but most basic formulations seem to include three