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Stanley Cavell and the Magic of Hollywood Films$
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Daniel Shaw

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474455701

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474455701.001.0001

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Halls of Montezuma and the Utility of War

Halls of Montezuma and the Utility of War

Chapter:
(p.118) Chapter 9 Halls of Montezuma and the Utility of War
Source:
Stanley Cavell and the Magic of Hollywood Films
Author(s):

Dan Shaw

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474455701.003.0009

Cavell acknowledged John Stuart Mill as a fellow perfectionist, with reference to On Liberty and its aversion to conformity. But the primary focus of this chapter is Mill’s principle of utility, and the hedonic calculus that springs therefrom. One of the hardest things to accept about war is its cost in human lives. Hollywood films often help us do so by arguing that more lives are saved than are lost by such sacrifices. From the Halls of Montezuma makes the case convincingly in explicitly utilitarian terms. In this regard, it will be contrasted with the mission in Saving Private Ryan, which makes no sense in utilitarian terms.

Keywords:   Mill, liberty, conformity, the principle of utility, hedonic calculus

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