In this example, morality is decided by the gain, pleasure, and other self-interest of the individual donning the ring. Such individuals would more than likely obtain this gain by committing illicit activities, such as robbing a bank, but use their winnings for fairly self-absorbed means to further their consumption of whatever suits their fancy. Houses, cars, women and other material items would more than likely be procured, for the simple fact that the individual is sating his own personal desires. In this case there is no need to act ethically, since the bearer of the ring is outside of the judgment (both literally and figuratively) of others, whose morals no longer apply to that individual.
The Rashomon effect describes the degree of subjectivity involved in the recollection of a memory, and is what is attributed to the fact that different people may recall the same incident with conflicting descriptions of it. This concept is significant in regards to moral dialogue because a moral conversation may be had between or within subjects to distinguish what may be ethically correct or even true, similar to what takes place in the film Rashomon. The metaphor involved with "falling into a dark hell" is one in which the light of the world, which symbolizes good, is contrasted with the darkness of the world, which symbolizes evil. The fact that there is a falling into a dark hell in the film symbolizes a decidedly pessimistic view of the inhabitable world, which strongly likens it to hell.
This notion presents an interesting dichotomy with Anthony Weston's concept of care ethics, which is based on principles of benevolence that consider the interdependence upon people for one another. In the film itself, the priest and the vagabond represent morally incomplete characters for the simple fact that they are giving testimonies (which may determine the outcome of another man's life) that are conflicting and not altogether true. These same elements are represented in the Woodcutter for similar reasons, yet he makes up for stealing the dagger from the crime scene by adopting the child at the movie's conclusion, thus presenting a moral action, and ending, in a film full of ethical ambiguities.
Constructive moral dialogue, as defined in Anthony Weston's philosophical introduction to pragmatic ethics, A Practical Companion to Ethics, is a series of considerations between the self and itself or the self and others that revolves around issues of morality. Constructive moral dialogue typically deals with such practical concerns of respect and other ethical issues which Weston believes should constitute what comprises moral behavior. There are several barriers that reduce the effectiveness or even the ability for one to engage in constructive moral dialogue, the most prevalent of which is a dearth of active listening on the part of the self or the outsider whom the dialogue is taking place with. An example of such a barrier can be illustrated by a person thinking through the consequences of an issue of morality, and not paying attention to the outcome because he or she does not want to believe or actually do it.
Another such barrier is a lack of responsive caring to the outcome or the considerations being made in the moral dialogue, which prevents proper action from occurring at the conclusion of or during the duration of the dialogue. Conversational narcissism is another barrier, in which a person refuses to consider other viewpoints incongruous with his or herself. Conversely, the most effective tool for moral dialogue is a willingness to engage one's self in the debate regarding the morality of an issue, such as an external factor needed to be considered. Similarly, an issue of morality is also necessary for the development of constructive moral dialogue, which can be illustrated by a decision of whether or not to kill someone. Another effective tool conducive to moral dialogue is a value for morals itself -- meaning knowledge that some behavior is ethical while others are not, and a willingness to try to perceive that distinction before taking action.
1. Singer, Peter. How Are We To Live? (1995). New York:…