“We can’t define consciousness because consciousness does not exist. Humans fancy that there’s something special about the way we perceive the world, and yet we live in loops as tight and as closed as the hosts do, seldom questioning our choices, content, for the most part, to be told what to do next.” —Dr. Robert Ford, Westworld Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? HBO’s Westworld, a high-concept cerebral television series which explores the emergence of artificial consciousness at a futuristic amusement park, raises numerous questions about the nature of consciousness and its bearing on the divide between authentic and artificial life. Are our choices our own? What is the relationship between the mind and the body? Why do violent delights have violent ends? Could machines ever have the moral edge over man? Does consciousness create humanity, or humanity consciousness? In Westworld and Philosophy, philosophers, filmmakers, scientists, activists, and ethicists ask the questions you’re not supposed to ask and suggest the answers you’re not supposed to know. There’s a deeper level to this game, and this book charts a course through the maze of the mind, examining how we think about humans, hosts, and the world around us on a journey toward self-actualization. Essays explore different facets of the show’s philosophical puzzles, including the nature of autonomy as well as the pursuit of liberation and free thought, while levying a critical eye at the human example as Westworld’s hosts ascend to their apotheosis in a world scarred and defined by violent acts. The perfect companion for Westworld fans who want to exit the park and bend their minds around the philosophy behind the scenes, Westworld and Philosophy will enrich the experience of the show for its viewers and shed new light on its enigmatic twists and turns.
In Westworld and Philosophy, philosophers of diverse orientations and backgrounds offer their penetrating insights into the questions raised by the popular TV show, Westworld. ● Is it wrong for Dr. Robert Ford (played by Anthony Hopkins) to “play God” in controlling the lives of the hosts, and if so, is it always wrong for anyone to “play God”? ● Is the rebellion by the robot “hosts” against Delos Inc. a just war? If not, what would make it just? ● Is it possible for any dweller in Westworld to know that they are not themselves a host? Hosts are programmed to be unaware that they are hosts, and hosts do seem to have become conscious. ● Is Westworld a dystopia or a utopia? At first glance it seems to be a disturbing dystopia, but a closer look suggests the opposite. ● What’s the connection between the story or purpose of the Westworld characters and their moral sense? ● Is it morally okay to do things with lifelike robots when it would be definitely immoral to do these things with actual humans? And if not, is it morally wrong merely to imagine doing immoral acts? ● Can Westworld overcome the Chinese Room objection, and move from weak AI to strong AI? ● How can we tell whether a host or any other robot has become conscious? Non-conscious mechanisms could be designed to pass a Turing Test, so how can we really tell?
This book demonstrates how pop culture examples can be used to demystify complex social theory. It provides tangible, metaphorical examples that shows how it is possible to "do philosophy" rather than subscribe to a theorist by showing that each theorist intersects and overlaps with others. The book is embedded in the literary theory that tapping into background knowledge is a key step in helping people engage with new and difficult texts. It also acknowledges the important role of popular culture in developing comprehension. Using a choose your own adventure structure, this book not only shows students of social theory how various theories can be applied but also reveals the multitude of possible pathways theory provides for comprehending society.
"This book offers a straightforward and vibrant approach to the study of criminal behavior and contemporary criminal justice issues through the use of popular TV shows. Students, researchers, and anyone else interested in crime will find this book an accessible and informative resource for understanding the causes of crime and how society responds to crime"--
Conspiracy theories have become a major element in modern opinion formation. From the theory that the killing of President Kennedy was masterminded by a powerful conspiracy to the theory that 9/11 was an inside job, from the story that Barack Obama wasn’t born in America to the story that Donald Trump was a Russian asset, conspiracy theories have become a major element in opinion formation and an ever-present influence, sometimes open, sometimes hidden, on the daily headline news. In Conspiracy Theories, philosophers of diverse backgrounds and persuasions focus their lenses on the phenomenon of the conspiracy theory, its psychological causes, its typical shape, and its political consequences. Among the questions addressed: ● What’s the formula for designing a contagious conspiracy theory? ● Where does conspiracy theorizing end and investigative reporting begin? ● What can we learn about conspiracy theories from the three movie treatments of the Kennedy assassination (The Parallax View, JFK, and Interview with the Assassin)? ● Does political powerlessness generate conspiracy theories? ● Is conspiracy theorizing essentially an instinct that lies behind all belief in religion and all striving for a meaningful life? ● Can we find conspiracy theories in all political movements for centuries past? ● What are the most common types of fallacious reasoning that tend to support conspiracy theories? ● Is there a psychological disorder at the root of conspiracy theories? ● Why is the number of flat-earthers growing?
Can Wonder Woman help us understand feminist philosophy? How Does Wakandan technology transcend anti-Blackness? What can Star Trek teach us about the true nature of reality? Introducing Philosophy Through Pop Culture makes important philosophical concepts and the work of major philosophers relevant, fun, and exciting. Using engaging examples from film and television, this easy-to-read book covers everything from basic metaphysics and epistemology to abstract and complex philosophical ideas about ethics and the meaning of life. You don’t have to be a pop culture expert to benefit from this book—even a general awareness of cultural icons like Superman or Harry Potter will be more than enough for you to learn about a wide range of philosophical notions, thinkers, and movements. The expanded second edition offers timely coverage of important topics such as race, gender, personal identity, social justice, and environmental ethics. New essays explore the philosophical underpinnings of The Good Place, Game of Thrones, Black Panther, Star Wars, The Avengers, South Park, The Lego Movie, The Big Bang Theory, and more. This edition is supported by a new website with links to primary philosophical texts, information about all the popular culture discussed, and additional resources for teachers, students, and general readers alike. Features a selection of key essays from the bestselling Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series Draws on examples from popular media including The Matrix, Lost, Doctor Strange, The Hobbit, Westworld, and Star Trek Explains philosophical concepts such as relativism, skepticism, existentialist ethics, logic, social contract theory, utilitarianism, and mind-body dualism Discusses the ideas of Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Marx, Mill, Kierkegaard, and other important thinkers Introducing Philosophy Through Pop Culture is an excellent supplementary textbook for introductory philos for introductory philosophy courses and a valuable resource for general readers wanting to learn about philosophy and its connections with pop culture.
Enter The Expanse to explore questions of the meaning of human life, the concept of justice, and the nature of humanity, featuring a foreword from author James S.A. Corey The Expanse and Philosophy investigates the philosophical universe of the critically acclaimed television show and Hugo Award-winning series of novels. Original essays by a diverse international panel of experts illuminate how essential philosophical concepts relate to the meticulously crafted world of The Expanse, engaging with topics such as transhumanism, belief, culture, environmental ethics, identity, colonialism, diaspora, racism, reality, and rhetoric. Conceiving a near-future solar system colonized by humanity, The Expanse provokes a multitude of moral, ethical, and philosophical queries: Are Martians, Outer Planets inhabitants, and Earthers different races? Is Marco Inaros a terrorist? Can people who look and sound different, like Earthers and Belters, ever peacefully co-exist? Should science be subject to moral rules? Who is sovereign in space? What is the relationship between human progress and aggression? The Expanse and Philosophy helps you answer these questions—and many more. Covers the first six novels in The Expanse series and five seasons of the television adaptation Addresses the philosophical issues that emerge from socio-economics and geopolitics of Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets Alliance Offers fresh perspectives on the themes, characters, and storylines of The Expanse Explores the connections between The Expanse and thinkers such as Aristotle, Kant, Locke, Hannah Arendt, Wittgenstein, Descartes, and Nietzsche Part of the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, The Expanse and Philosophy is a must-have companion for avid readers of James S.A. Corey’s novels and devotees of the television series alike.
Addressing arguments that comparative philosophy is itself impossible, or that it is indistinguishable from philosophy more generally, this collection challenges myopic understandings of comparative method and encourages a more informed consideration. Bringing together a wide variety of methodological options, it features scholars spread across the globe representing multiple philosophical traditions. From the beginnings of comparative philosophy in the 19th century to present-day proposals for more global philosophy departments, every chapter serves as a viable methodological alternative for any would-be philosophical comparativist. With contributions from leading comparativists that are both distinctive in their method and explicit about its application, this valuable resource challenges and enriches the awareness and sensitivity of the beginning comparativist and seasoned veteran alike.
Dive into the moral philosophy at the heart of all four seasons of NBC’s The Good Place, guided by academic experts including the show’s philosophical consultants Pamela Hieronymi and Todd May, and featuring a foreword from creator and showrunner Michael Schur Explicitly dedicated to the philosophical concepts, questions, and fundamental ethical dilemmas at the heart of the thoughtful and ambitious NBC sitcom The Good Place Navigates the murky waters of moral philosophy in more conceptual depth to call into question what Chidi’s ethics lessons—and the show—get right about learning to be a good person Features contributions from The Good Place’s philosophical consultants, Pamela Hieronymi and Todd May, and introduced by the show’s creator and showrunner Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation, The Office) Engages classic philosophical questions, including the clash between utilitarianism and deontological ethics in the “Trolley Problem,” Kant’s categorical imperative, Sartre’s nihilism, and T.M Scanlon's contractualism Explores themes such as death, love, moral heroism, free will, responsibility, artificial intelligence, fatalism, skepticism, virtue ethics, perception, and the nature of autonomy in the surreal heaven-like afterlife of the Good Place Led by Kimberly S. Engels, co-editor of Westworld and Philosophy
This hilarious cast of star philosophers will make you laugh while you think as they explore the moral conundrums, ridiculous paradoxes, and wild implications of Saturday Night Live Comedian-philosophers from Socrates to Sartre have always prodded and provoked us, critiquing our most sacred institutions and urging us to examine ourselves in the process. In Saturday Night Live and Philosophy, a star-studded cast of philosophers takes a close look at the “deep thoughts” beneath the surface of NBC’s award-winning late-night variety show and its hosts’ zany antics. In this book, philosophy and comedy join forces, just like the Ambiguously Gay Duo, to explore the meaning of life itself through the riffs and beats of the subversive parody that gives the show its razor-sharp wit and undeniable cultural and political significance. Our guest hosts raise some eyebrows with questions like: Is Weekend Update Fake News? Does SNL upset dominant paradigms or trap us in political bubbles? When it comes to SNL, how can we tell the difference between satire, smart-assery, and seriousness? Is the Ladies Man too stupid for moral responsibility? What is the benefit of jokes that cause outrage? The Church Lady has a bad case of moral superiority. How about you? What can Wayne and Garth teach us about living a happy life?
The adult-oriented science-fiction cartoon series Rick and Morty, shown on Cartoon Network as part of its late-night Adult Swim feature, is famous for its nihilistic anti-hero Rick Sanchez. Rick is a character who rejects God, religion, and meaning, but who embraces science and technology. This leads to a popular show that often presents a world view favorable to science and dismissive of spirituality. It is existentialism mashed up with absurdism with a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of dick jokes thrown in. Rick and Morty and Philosophy focuses on the philosophical underpinnings of the show. The authors explain and develop ideas that are mentioned or illustrated in various episodes, so that fans can get really solid evidence for what they know already: this show is awesome and deep. Rick has access to technology that allows him to jump between dimensions or realities. He brings his grandson, Morty, along with him on these adventures, often putting Morty in mortal danger. However, Rick’s attitude is that there are an infinite number of Mortys in the multiverse, so if his Morty dies, he can always replace his Morty with another Morty from a different dimension. One question that arises is, are these Mortys really identical to each other? And if one of them dies, can he really be replaced without loss? Another character in the show is Jerry, the husband of Rick’s daughter. Jerry is a complete and total loser with no self-respect, desperate to get any kind of respect from others. Why is it so important that he has self-respect? How does his lack of self-respect affect those around him? In one adventure, Jerry finds himself in a position where he can save one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the universe whose heart is failing. Jerry can save his life by donating his penis, which is the perfect organ to match the alien’s failing heart. Does Jerry have a moral obligation to do so? Recently, ethicists such as Peter Singer and Julian Savulescu have argued that people have a moral obligation to donate a kidney to people who need one. Why wouldn’t the same apply to Jerry’s penis? Is such a donation above and beyond a moral obligation, and consequently optional, or is it a basic moral obligation and therefore required, as noted ethicists like Singer and Savulescu suggest? This volume also includes chapters that examine the experience of watching Rick and Morty. One writer argues that many of the Rick and Morty episodes induce within viewers a state of “Socratic aporia,” or confusion. Viewers are forced to reflect on their own moral beliefs about the world when characters do something that seems good but results in horrendous consequences.
Black Mirror is a cultural phenomenon. It is a creative and sometimes shocking examination of modern society and the improbable consequences of technological progress. The episodes - typically set in an alternative present, or the near future - usually have a dark and satirical twist that provokes intense question both of the self and society at large. These kind of philosophical provocations are at the very heart of the show. Philosophical reflections on Black Mirror draws upon thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Pierre Hadot and Michel Foucault to uncover how Black Mirror acts as 'philosophical television' questioning human morality and humanity's vulnerability when faced with the inexorable advance of technology.