Film and ethics

Robert Sinnerbrink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the flourishing of research on film and philosophy, there has been comparatively little attention given to the relationship between ethics and cinema. More recently, scholars have begun exploring the ways in which cinema can be read alongside philosophical approaches to ethics, or how certain filmmakers can be understood as engaging in ethics through film. Film theory not only has now begun to explore ethics in film but could be described as undergoing an “ethical turn” in reflecting upon cinema as a distinctive way of thinking through ethical concerns. This chapter examines four ways in which ethical approaches to cinema are commonly articulated in philosophical film theory: (1) ethics in cinema (focusing on narrative content); (2) the ethics of cinematic representation (focusing on issues raised by film production and/or audience reception); (3) the ethics of cinema as a cultural medium expressing moral beliefs, social values or ideology; and (4) the aesthetic dimension of cinema—the role of aesthetic form in intensifying our experience, focusing our attention, sensitizing us to our environment—as affective ways of evoking ethical experience and thereby opening up our moral-ethical horizons.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy and film
Subtitle of host publicationbridging divides
EditorsChristina Rawls, Diana Neiva, Steven S. Gouveia
Place of PublicationNew York ; London
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780429787140
ISBN (Print)9781138351691
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge research in aesthetics


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