chapter  5
Arguing against utilitarianism: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Pages 18

In previous chapters, I have explored two ways in which films can qualify as doing philosophy. First, I argued that a film that illustrates a philosophical theory can make a contribution to that theory. Second, I showed that films can present thought experiments, an important philosophical technique that has flourished within analytic philosophy. Still, there is one philosophical technique that many philosophers see as

essential to philosophy and that it might be thought lies outside the range of film’s capabilities, viz. presenting an argument. For many contemporary philosophers, especially those working within the analytic tradition, logical argumentation is the hallmark of philosophy. If film cannot be shown to have the capacity to present arguments, then it might be thought that there can only be a tenuous connection between film and philosophy. In this chapter, I will demonstrate that films can indeed present arguments

by showing that there is one type of argument – the presentation of a counterexample to a philosophical thesis by means of a thought experiment – that films are well-suited tomake. After clearing theway for this viewwith some general considerations, I will develop an interpretation of Michel Gondry’s 2004 film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, that shows how the film presents a counterexample to the ethical theory of utilitarianism.