Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Is Dexter a monster?

Posted by Michael Dickens on October 2, 2009

Recently, I began watching Dexter, a show about a serial killer who kills criminals that the police haven’t found. Since he basically enjoys killing people, he regularly calls himself a “monster”. But is he really?

Potential minor spoilers ahead!

Dexter, although he takes pleasure in killing people, still has a sense of morality. He only kills people who he deems to deserve it, and he is essentially a nice guy (although most of his niceness is just an act). He still understands, though, that killing is wrong. Which is why he only kills people he deems to be bad people. He actually rather successfully kills known murderers who the police do not have enough evidence to convict. His methods are rather inhumane — he does not kill them painlessly, but instead ties them up with saran wrap and then saws their face off — but he is still delivering justice. And it avoids some of the problems with the death penalty. Dexter is very good at determining whether someone is innocent (usually by breaking into their house and illegally obtaining evidence), so conviction of innocents is unlikely. And it’s not state-funded, so there’s not a long bureaucratic process, so costs are kept low. Not that everyone should go around killing people. The only reason I can at all support Dexter’s killing habit is because, since it is a television show, I am inside his head so I know that he is just trying to do the right thing.

I don’t know any monsters who are nearly as helpful as Dexter.

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2 Responses to “Is Dexter a monster?”

  1. phynnboi said

    Yes, torturing people to death makes one a monster.

    On a somewhat related note, I saw a video awhile back on YouTube where a mob of people stoned some girl to death because they believed she had committed adultery or some other such thing that made her “bad” and in need of a delivery of “justice.” Now that I think about it, that video strongly recalled the beating of Reginald Denny, which itself was performed by a group of men upset that traditional methods of justice had failed “them.”

    Out of curiosity, I wonder: Were someone far more valuable than yourself–say, a Nobel-winning physicist on the cusp of another great discovery–in need of a heart transplant, and were it somehow determined that your heart and only your heart would be accepted, do you think it’d be moral for the government to kill you for your heart? They wouldn’t ask your permission, nor would they give your family restitution. However, the net gain to society would be positive.

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