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About William Irwin
William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King's College, Pennsylvania. Irwin's latest books are Little Siddhartha (2018) and God Is a Question, Not an Answer (2018). He is also the author of the novel Free Dakota (2016) and The Free Market Existentialist: Capitalism without Consumerism (2015). Irwin's first book, Intentionalist Interpretation: A Philosophical Explanation and Defense (1999), was nominated for the American Philosophical Association Young Scholar's Book Prize. Irwin is best known for having originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books with Seinfeld and Philosophy (1999), The Simpsons and Philosophy (2001), and The Matrix and Philosophy (2002). He was editor of these books and then General Editor of the Popular Culture and Philosophy Series through Open Court Publishing. In 2006, Irwin left Open Court to become the General Editor of The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, which includes Metallica and Philosophy (2007)and Black Sabbath and Philosophy (2012), among other volumes. Irwin first theorized the philosophy and pop culture genre in his article "Philosophy as/and/of Popular Culture" in Irwin and Gracia eds. Philosophy and the Interpretation of Popular Culture (2006).
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“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.
Investigating the trail of philosophical leads in HBO’s chilling True Detective series, an elite team of philosophers examine far-reaching riddles including human pessimism, Rust’s anti-natalism, the problem of evil, and the ‘flat circle’.
- The first book dedicated to exploring the far-reaching philosophical questions behind the darkly complex and Emmy-nominated HBO True Detective series
- Explores in a fun but insightful way the rich philosophical and existential experiences that arise from this gripping show
- Gives new perspectives on the characters in the series, its storylines, and its themes by investigating core questions such as: Why Life Rather Than Death? Cosmic Horror and Hopeful Pessimism, the Illusion of Self, Noir, Tragedy, Philosopher-Detectives, and much, much more
- Draws together an elite team of philosophers to shine new light on why this genre-expanding show has inspired such a fervently questioning fan-base
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
A philosophical exploration of the entire seven-book Harry Potter series
Harry Potter has been heralded as one of the most popular book series of all time and the philosophical nature of Harry, Hermione, and Ron's quest to rid the world of its ultimate evil is one of the many things that make this series special. The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy covers all seven titles in J.K. Rowling's groundbreaking series and takes fans back to Godric's Hollow to discuss life after death, to consider what moral reasoning drove Harry to choose death, and to debate whether Sirius Black is a man or a dog.
With publication timed to coincide with the release of the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1), this book will be the definitive guide for all fans looking to appreciate the series on a deeper level.
- Covers a range of intriguing topics such as the redemption of Severus Snape, the power of love, and destiny in the wizarding world
- Gives you a new perspective on Harry Potter characters, plot lines, and themes
- Makes a perfect companion to the Harry Potter books and movies
Packed with interesting ideas and insights, The Ultimate Harry Potter and Philosophy is an ideal companion for anyone interested in unraveling the subtext and exploring the greater issues at work in the story.
James Cameron’s critically acclaimed movie Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards and received countless accolades for its breath-taking visuals and use of 3D technology. But beyond its cinematic splendour, can Avatar also offer us insights into business ethics, empathy, disability, and the relationship between mind and body? Can getting to know the Na’vi, an alien species, enlarge our vision and help us to “see” both our world and ourselves in new ways?
Avatar and Philosophy is a revealing journey through the world of Pandora and the huge range of philosophical themes raised by James Cameron’s groundbreaking film
- Explores philosophical issues such as religion, morality, aesthetics, empathy, identity, the relationship of mind and body, environmental and business ethics, technology, and just war theory
- Examines a wide range of topics from the blockbuster movie, including attitudes toward nature, our responsibilities to nonhuman species, colonialism, disability, and communitarian ethics
- Written by an esteemed group of philosophers who are avid fans of Avatar themselves
- Explains philosophical concepts in an enjoyable and accessible manner that will appeal to all levels of readers
- With a new trilogy of sequels now announced, this is the ideal entry point for understanding the world of Pandora for fans and newcomers alike
Katniss Everdeen is "the girl who was on fire," but she is also the girl who made us think, dream, question authority, and rebel. The post-apocalyptic world of Panem's twelve districts is a divided society on the brink of war and struggling to survive, while the Capitol lives in the lap of luxury and pure contentment. At every turn in the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss, Peeta, Gale, and their many allies wrestle with harrowing choices and ethical dilemmas that push them to the brink. Is it okay for Katniss to break the law to ensure her family's survival? Do ordinary moral rules apply in the Arena? Can the world of The Hunger Games shine a light into the dark corners of our world? Why do we often enjoy watching others suffer? How can we distinguish between what's Real and Not Real? This book draws on some of history's most engaging philosophical thinkers to take you deeper into the story and its themes, such as sacrifice, altruism, moral choice, and gender.
- Gives you new insights into the Hunger Games series and its key characters, plot lines, and ideas
- Examines important themes such as the state of nature, war, celebrity, authenticity, and social class
- Applies the perspective of some of world's greatest minds, such as Charles Darwin, Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, and Immanuel Kant to the Hunger Games trilogy
- Covers all three books in the Hunger Games trilogy
An essential companion for Hunger Games fans, this book will take you deeper into the dystopic world of Panem and into the minds and motivations of those who occupy it.
A philosophical look at the twisted, high-tech near-future of the sci-fi anthology series Black Mirror, offering a glimpse of the darkest reflections of the human condition in digital technology
Black Mirror―the Emmy-winning Netflix series that holds up a dark, digital mirror of speculative technologies to modern society—shows us a high-tech world where it is all too easy to fall victim to ever-evolving forms of social control.In Black Mirror and Philosophy, original essays written by a diverse group of scholars invite you to peer into the void and explore the philosophical, ethical, and existential dimensions of Charlie Brooker’s sinister stories. The collection reflects Black Mirror’s anthology structure by pairing a chapter with every episode in the show’s five seasons—including an interactive, choose-your-own-adventure analysis of Bandersnatch—and concludes with general essays that explore the series’ broader themes. Chapters address questions about artificial intelligence, virtual reality, surveillance, privacy, love, death, criminal behavior, and politics, including:
- Have we given social media too much power over our lives?
- Could heaven really, one day, be a place on Earth?
- Should criminal justice and punishment be crowdsourced?
- What rights should a “cookie” have?
Immersive, engaging, and experimental, Black Mirror and Philosophy navigates the intellectual landscape of Brooker’s morality plays for the modern world, where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.
Can we hold the Joker morally responsible for his actions?
Is Batman better than Superman?
If everyone followed Batman's example,
would Gotham be a better place?
What is the Tao of the Bat?
Batman is one of the most complex characters ever to appear in comic books, graphic novels, and on the big screen. What philosophical trials does this superhero confront in order to keep Gotham safe? Combing through seventy years of comic books, television shows, and movies, Batman and Philosophy explores how the Dark Knight grapples with ethical conundrums, moral responsibility, his identity crisis, the moral weight he carries to avenge his murdered parents, and much more. How does this caped crusader measure up against the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Lao Tzu?
The essays in this volume tackle the philosophical questions from these blockbuster films including: Was Anakin predestined to fall to the Dark Side? Are the Jedi truly role models of moral virtue? Why would the citizens and protectors of a democratic Republic allow it to descend into a tyrannical empire? Is Yoda a peaceful Zen master or a great warrior, or both? Why is there both a light and a dark side of the Force? Star Wars and Philosophy ponders the depths of these subjects and asks what it truly means to be mindful of the "living force."
The contributors include many of the leading voices in the burgeoning new field of philosophy of sport, plus a few other talented philosophers with a personal interest in baseball. A few of the contributors are also drawn from academic areas outside philosophy: statistics, law, and history.
This volume gives the thoughtful baseball fan substancial material to think more deeply about. What moral issues are raised by the Intentional Walk? Do teams sometimes benefit from the self-interested behavior of their individual members? How can Zen be applied to hitting? Is it ethical to employ deception in sports? Can a game be defined by its written rules or are there also other constraints? What can the U.S. Supreme Court learn from umpiring? Why should baseball be the only industry exempt from antitrust laws? What part does luck play in any game of skill?