The main idea that underlines the entirety of the movie Gattaca rests on the assumption that at some point in the future, with the radical upsurge of technological and scientific innovations, humanity will experience a different form of discrimination. Rather than depending the worth of an individual according to one’s race or any of the other societal factors that determine one’s position in a community, the genetic composition of human beings will decide on what place in the society he or she properly belongs.
The roles of both science and technology in supposedly upgrading the lives of men pose an even more serious set of queries that revolve around the future of man. Will the genetic basis for the position of man in the social hierarchy dissolve the various elements that deter the flourishing of human life or will it degrade the rest of humanity and promote social prejudice even more?
Will the human race be able to continue with their lives provided that the social dichotomy portrayed in the movie is further emphasized and is made more obvious? While the movie puts a strain of emphasis on the idea that there are several aspects in the lives of men and the nations in general that will merit benefits, it simultaneously puts a space of doubt on the ethical substance of the “valid” and “invalid” partition among men.
It is also worth citing the fact that there are instances in the movie whereby the genuinely “invalid” has been able to supersede the level of achievement obtained by the genuinely “valid”. The moral strands that are to be found beneath the immediate scenes perceived shed light on the absolution of man from the clutches and the limiting aspects inflicted upon by science and technology in the course of the life of individuals.
In general, Gattaca sets the pace for the debates circumscribed in ethics and progress. Ethical views behind Gattaca The society upon which the story is founded focuses on the attainment of the “happiness” of man which can be roughly identified with a sense of satisfaction with life in the context of the plot of the movie. Since every man attempts to achieve happiness with regards to his place in the society, it is most likely to happen that he will embrace the possible measures in achieving it.
An understanding of Kantian ethics can be roughly started with the presumption that if we are to strictly follow the assertion that the very goal of the lives of men is the attainment of happiness in general, then every individual will most likely be inclined to seek personal gratification as well as pleasure in the very desire for happiness. Nevertheless, the attainment of happiness is not entirely within the human capacity and that the eventual attainment of happiness can be interpreted as a matter of chance which depends primarily on the varying capacities of man.
No universal assurance on the attainment of happiness can then be seen. Consequently, by trying to remove cynicism and nihilism and by allowing the ethical norms of man to occupy the actions of all, it is necessary for these ethical norms or doctrines to be both unconditional such that there should be no exceptions and universal in the sense that these tenets should be applicable to each and every human being (Kant). Kant proceeds with his idea of the good will by defining it as a will that operates for the sake of duty and as a “good-in-itself”.
For the most part, the concept of duty is central to the ethical precepts of Kant which he regards crucial by considering the difference that dwell between actions in accordance with duty and actions performed for the sake of duty. For Kant, the latter phrase is the only one which bears moral worth which appears to imply that a greater moral worth of Vincent’s, portrayed by Ethan Hawke, action—the scene wherein Vincent assumes Jerome’s identity—results primarily from his greater disinclination to act merely for the sake of duty.
That is, if Vincent is motivated to do a certain act simply because he is entirely inclined to do such an act, then the act itself is considered to be bereft of moral worth (Sullivan). Duty for Kant is the inevitability or necessity of functioning out of a strict observation for laws that are universal. Consequently, the worth or value of the action done by Vincent in terms of moral contexts is essentially drawn from the intention of the action.
Moreover, Kant’s treatment of a maxim can be briefly summarized as a given principle upon which one acts such that its nature is based on the manner in the expression of the intention. Thus, the content of the action done by Vincent in terms of intent have an important role in Kantian ethics. This content can be further expressed in two manners. The first states that there are maxims or imperatives which stipulate that there are acts based on the desires of the individual such as Vincent. This is what Kant calls the hypothetical imperative.
On the other hand, those which are based on reason and not merely dependent on one’s desires belong to the categorical imperative. The latter type deals with what ought to be done. All these can be roughly transposed and summarized into Kant’s conception of the practical imperative which claims that one ought to act to treat human beings as ends in themselves and never merely as a means to any given end, whether the individual is the self or another person. Thus, Vincent ought to have acted in treating Jerome not merely as his means to his own personal ends but as the very end himself of his own actions.
By utilizing Jerome as a way in order for Vincent to fulfill his innermost desires, the latter has already crossed the boundary that separates man as an end and man as a mere utility of other men. Vincent In the context of the movie, Vincent is portrayed as an individual who strives fervently in order to fulfill his dream of reaching Saturn. This he does by utilizing several schemes which include the act of assuming the identity of another person whose genetic composition is far better than his own.
By acquiring Jerome’s identity, Vincent is able to get closer to reaching the moment that he has waited for all of his life, making him all the more eager to laying his hands on the opportunity of crossing the limitations that place obstacles against his path. Such behavior of Vincent, the protagonist in the movie, relates to us the idea that he is indeed inclined towards the pursuit of the completion of his desires, desires that will make him happy or satisfied with his life in a way.
His pursuit has led to commit actions that are ethically proscribed, at least according to several theories proposed such as that of Immanuel Kant’s practical imperative. His belief in his self that he is far superior to those who are genetically advanced is further amplified when he was able to beat his brother Antonio in a swimming race—his brother being one of those who are “valid” or who were conceived through the use genetic engineering. This observation brings us to the idea that Vincent is somewhat an egoist, believing all the more in the capacity of his self to outdo others, and putting greater weight on what he can do for himself.
In the achievement of his goals that set aside the welfare of others, especially the rights of others, Vincent endures by pursuing what he feels would fulfill the essence of his life, that the attainment of his childhood dream very well serves the purpose of adding up not only to what he strongly yearns for in his life but also to what would set him apart from those who are believed to be “superior” to him and to the rest of the “invalid” people.