by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
The Good Place: A new NBC comedy is not about medicine but about a selfish woman, Eleanor, who accidentally is brought to the “good place” after death. Surrounded by humanitarians and selfless people, she quickly realizes that she does not belong there. After learning that most people end up somewhere else and that it is a place of eternal torment, she wants to stay. She is introduced to her soul mate, Chidi, who turns out to be a professor of ethics and moral philosophy born in Senegal. To help her be worthy of staying, he begins tutoring her in moral philosophy. He talks to her about the Critique of Pure Reason and comes to the conclusion that a selfish person cannot change to being a moral one. But then he stumbles upon his Aristotle, who believed that moral character was built through practice. If she does good things then we will become good. The characters also are faced with a series of ethical dilemmas: Should Eleanor go flying with the others or pick up garbage after a storm damages their neighborhood; can an indifferent person become a good person; should Eleanor admit that she does not belong there (and prevent a series of what will most likely be unending weekly calamities). Overall, The Good Place is a mediocre show with some intelligent jokes. Seeing a philosopher as a major character is refreshing (and probably the only reason that my mom suggested I watch the show).
Also premiering this week was Grey’s Anatomy (Season 13, episode 1).
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.