Philosophy club’s “Good Place” lecture analyzes ethics, appeals to eclectic audience

Philosophy Club held a deep spoiler-filled discussion over the television show “The Good Place” in the dusty corners of Welles on Thursday Sept. 27. 

The show, created by Michael Schur of “Parks & Recreation,” features Kristen Bell as Eleanor Shellstrop—an average woman who dies and winds up is in the heavenly “Good Place.” Eventually, Eleanor learns that she is there by mistake, centering all of the gray areas in her moral choices. 

The two-hour lecture involved assistant professor in philosophy and women’s and gender studies Amanda Roth and lecturer of philosophy Carly Herold showing various clips of the show followed by asking the audience thought-provoking questions based on the show’s morality. Roth focused on the idea of the show’s point system that decides who is a “good” or “bad” person.

“Philosophical ethics has been input as the standard of right and wrong rather than anything to do with religion,” Roth said. Roth observed that the show is based on more philosophical ideas other than the traditional heaven and hell that people may think of. 

For many of the students, this lecture was their first meeting with the Philosophy Club. Most of the students were drawn in by the idea of discussing “The Good Place.” Fans of the show were drawn in by the ability to consider some of the philosophy behind the show they love. 

From biology majors to actual philosophy majors, students shared their opinions and arguments with one another. Early childhood and childhood education major sophomore Emily Hayes appreciated the variety of students at the event. 

“Everyone can gather in such a media-centered way where anyone can learn about philosophy without being of that major,” Hayes said.

 While she came as a fan of the show instead of a club member, Hayes enjoyed the deeper conversation, joining in herself. 

“I liked the question of whether or not [people] should belong in the good or bad place,” Hayes said. “It’s good to see different views through an outsider’s perspective. You benefit from the different perspectives.” 

Philosophy Club Vice President Max Lickona acknowledged that this lecture differed from the club’s usual meetings. 

“People normally come to meetings to talk about heavy-handed topics which can be intimidating,” Lickona said. “Many people are intimidated by philosophy. I think when something is boiled down to a television show, there’s food and you have friends to go with, it’s easier to understand.”

Lickona believes that the presentation was one of the club’s most popular events due to “The Good Place’s” ability to appeal to varied groups of students. 

“When people have different perspectives of the world you can learn so much from them, you learn new perspectives even if you think you have the right perspective,” Lickona said.

Besides “The Good Place,” Philosophy Club has previously taken on such topics as mental illness, censorship, identity, death and consciousness. Everyone can benefit from this. All majors are welcome, no philosophical experience is necessary to be a part of the discussions.