"Don Draper's core values are the same as Dick Whitman's because he is Dick Whitman"and
"But his core values remained the same, because they were formed by the experience of growing up as Dick Whitman, you cannot separate the two."That perfectly sums up the view I respect but disagree with. To say that Dick Whitman has core values that were formed by his upbringing is to insist that there is a part of us that is authentic; that is the realest part of us. If you believe authenticity is important—and lots of people do even though I don't—this is what you will assert. I disagree. I say that he used to be Dick Whitman he has become Don Draper. Sometimes he lapses but he stays focused on that end.
I highlight this because these issues sum up what this blog is about and what I am about. In most modern ethics—which is to say ethics since the Enlightenment—core values and our real identity are what matter. In classic virtue ethics what really matters is your ability to take on and fulfill a particular role. There is a lot more to it than that but that is enough for my purposes here.
We cannot, of course, simply choose to be other than we are—a point Matt Weiner understands and is well-illustrated in the show. Nor can we simply make up a role, we have to choose from the menu that the culture, history and, I would insist, God has presented us with. But we can choose a social role and grow into it. That is what makes Don Draper admirable even though he has serious failings.