ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Imitation Game: Ethical Quadaries

Updated on November 20, 2016

Ethics is the philosophical study of what is right and wrong and most importantly why that is the case. In the movie, The Imitation Game, directed by Morten Tyldum (2014), the main characters are faced with an ethical dilemma: now that they have broken the Nazi’s coding machine Enigma, what information can they act on and what information must they pretend they don’t know. There is a particular scene the morning after they learn how to break the code, where they find out the Nazis are about to attack one of the Royal Navy’s ships. In the movie, this moment is dramatized by making it the ship one of Peter Hilton’s, one of the members of the team, brother. Though this didn’t happen in real life, it helps portray the significance of the decision the team had to make deciding who lives and who dies. They were faced with the dilemma of whether to act on this information even if the Nazis could potentially get suspicious, whom they could trust with the information that they had cracked Enigma, and whether their job was merely to crack the code or also to ensure they could continue cracking the code every day from then on.

In the movie, the team is first forced to choose whether or not to act on information regarding an incident of heavy emotional importance Peter. This magnified the decision they needed to make regarding which information to act on to remain inconspicuous. If they have information to save lives, should they not act on that information and hence save the aforementioned lives? Or should they only act on certain pieces of information that wouldn’t let the Nazi’s know they have broken the Enigma’s code? They wisely chose the latter so they could save as many lives as possible while maintaining the lowest probability of Nazi suspicion. This decision proved to be practical because this strategy won World War II for the Allies and according to the movie’s liner notes, they saved over 14 million lives.

They also had to decide whether their job was merely to break the Enigma or to also decide what to do with the information they received. If they told their commander, Denniston, he would have suffered from the same emotional attachments Peter did when his brother was about to die. Denniston would have had significantly more friend’s lives on the line than anyone in the code-breaking team, and would have possibly been tempted to foolishly act on more information to save the lives of his soon-to-be-fallen comrades. Alan Turing and his team decided that they couldn’t trust Denniston to keep the secret and they could only trust the chief of MI6, Stewart Menzies, with the information of their new breakthrough. Though Denniston was their commanding officer, with information this important to the outcome of the war, they had to trust that they were some of the world’s greatest minds and that they had the ability to decide what information they could pass on to the rest of the military.

If the team had acted on the intelligence that Peter’s brother’s ship what about to be attacked, they could have saved hundreds of lives. However, because they would be running the risk of letting the Nazis know they had cracked Enigma, they would save exponentially more lives by not acting on the immediately available intelligence. But this decision implicitly also says that lives are quantifiable and that five lives saved isn’t as valuable as ten lives saved. This may seem like a logical point until one’s own life or the life of a loved one is on the table. Peter wasn’t able to think logically when his brother’s life was on the line. If they had acted on every piece of information they received by means of Enigma, they would have lost the advantage they had worked for months to gain. They wouldn’t be able to find the Enigma settings every day from then until the end of the war.

In the end, Alan Turing and his team played a vital role in the Allies victory in WWII. The decision they made to keep their information a secret proved to be extremely logical. If they had chosen to save Peter’s brother’s ship, they would have saved people that were merely doing their best to defend their country, but they could have lost the war for the Allies.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)