Update (2 Feb. 2016): Our paper has a new title: “So Long Suckers: Bargaining and Betrayal in Breaking Bad.” We’ve posted a complete draft of our working paper on SSRN, and we’ve posted our new abstract here.
That is the tentative title of our work-in-progress in which we evaluate the fateful actions of meth-kingpin Walter White (alias Heisenberg) and DEA agent Hank Schrader–the two lead characters in the popular crime-drama “Breaking Bad“–from a natural law perspective. (We have written a series of papers over the years exploring the intersection between popular culture and law. See here, for example, if you are into vampires. Our “breaking bad” paper, which we expect to complete by early 2016, is our most recent contribution to this series.) In the meantime, here is the abstract of our “breaking bad” paper:
During its five seasons on the air, the critically-acclaimed TV series Breaking Bad presented many legal and ethical dilemmas. The show’s many memorable characters are often confronted with life-and-death decisions with many deep legal and ethical consequences. (In fact, Breaking Bad contains so many themes relating to law and morality that a respected law journal recently devoted an entire issue to analyzing various aspects of Breaking Bad from legal and ethical perspectives. See The New Mexico Law Review, Vol. 45, no. 2, Spring 2015.) Nevertheless, despite this flurry of original scholarship in the TV series, no jurist has analyzed Breaking Bad from a “natural law” perspective. In brief, natural law is one of the oldest ethical traditions in law. Broadly speaking, the natural law tradition takes the view that certain legal rights are universal, inalienable, and discoverable through human reason. Among the key insights of natural law is the possibility of an irreconcilable conflict between one’s duty to one’s family and one’s duty to obey the law. Accordingly, my paper shall analyze the underlying conflict between Walter White and Hank Schrader from a natural law perspective. Specifically, we shall explain why Hank (not Walt) is the real “bad guy” of the series.