Science Fiction and Philosophy

Science Fiction and Philosophy : From Time Travel to Superintelligence

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A timely volume that uses science fiction as a springboard to meaningful philosophical discussions, especially at points of contact between science fiction and new scientific developments.* Raises questions and examines timely themes concerning the nature of the mind, time travel, artificial intelligence, neural enhancement, free will, the nature of persons, transhumanism, virtual reality, and neuroethics* Draws on a broad range of books, films and television series, including The Matrix, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Frankenstein, Brave New World, The Time Machine, and Back to the Future* Considers the classic philosophical puzzles that appeal to the general reader, while also exploring new topics of interest to the more seasoned academic
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 155 x 228 x 20mm | 560g
  • Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Chicester, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Original
  • black & white illustrations, figures
  • 1405149078
  • 9781405149075
  • 319,675

Back cover copy

Science fiction is more than mere entertainment. Historian H. Bruce Franklin defines it as "the literature which, growing with science and technology, evaluates it and relates it meaningfully to the rest of human existence." Indeed, science fiction is increasingly converging with science fact. From the nature of mind to the ethics of AI and neural enhancement, science fiction thought experiments fire the philosophical imagination, encouraging us to think outside of the box about classic philosophical problems and even to envision new ones. For in certain cases, future technologies invite their own distinctive philosophical puzzles. "Science Fiction and Philosophy" explores timely philosophical issues such as the nature of persons and their minds, puzzles about virtual reality, transhumanism, whether time travel is possible, the nature of artificial intelligence, and topics in neuroethics. This thought-provoking volume is suitable for students and general readers and at the same time examines new and more advanced topics of interest to seasoned philosophers and scientists.
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Table of contents

Sources and Acknowledgments Introduction Thought Experiments: Science Fiction as a Window into Philosophical Puzzles (Susan Schneider). Part I: Could I be in a "Matrix" or Computer Simulation? Related Works: The Matrix; Permutation City; The 13th Floor; Vanilla Sky; Total Recall; Animatrix 1. Brain in a Vat (John Pollock). 2. Are You In a Computer Simulation (Nick Bostrom). 3. Excerpt from The Republic Plato 4. Excerpt from The Meditations on First Philosophy (Rene Descartes). 5. The Matrix as Metaphysics (David J. Chalmers). Part II: What Am I? Free Will and the Nature of Persons Related Works: Software; Star Trek, The Next Generation: Second Chances; Mindscan; The Matrix; Minority Report 6. Where Am I (Daniel C. Dennett). 7. Personal Identity (Eric Olson). 8. Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons (Derek Parfit). 9. Who Am I? What Am I (Ray Kurzweil). 10. Free Will and Determinism in the World of Minority Report (Michael Huemer). 11. Excerpt from "The Book of Life: A Thought Experiment" (Alvin I. Goldman). Part III: Mind: Natural, Artificial, Hybrid, and "Super" Related Works: 2001; Blade Runner; AI; Frankenstein; Terminator; I, Robot 12. Robot Dreams (Isaac Asimov). 13. A Brain Speaks (Andy Clark). 14. The Mind as the Software of the Brain (Ned Block). 15. Cyborgs Unplugged (Andy Clark). 16. Consciousness in Human and Robot Minds (Daniel C. Dennett). 17. Superintelligence and Singularity (Ray Kurzweil). Part IV: Ethical and Political Issues Related Works: Brave New World; Gattaca; Terminator; White Plague 18. The Man on the Moon (George J. Annas). 19. Mindscan: Transcending and Enhancing the Human (Brain Susan Schneider). 20. The Doomsday Argument (John Leslie). 21. Asimov's "Three Laws of Robotics" and Machine Metaethics (Susan Leigh Anderson). 22. Ethical Issues in Advanced Artificial Intelligence (Nick Bostrom). Part V: Space and Time Related Works: Twelve Monkeys; Slaughterhouse Five; The Time Machine; Back to the Future; Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions 23. A Sound of Thunder (Ray Bradbury). 24. Time (Theodore Sider). 25. The Paradoxes of Time Travel (David Lewis). 26. The Quantum Physics of Time Travel (David Deutsch and Michael Lockwood). 27. Miracles and Wonders: Science Fiction as Epistemology (Richard Hanley). Index
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Review Text

" Science Fiction and Philosophy brings two areas togetherand into a dialogue: philosophy holds the fantasmatic enjoyment ofscience fiction to account for its illusions and awesomepossibilities while science fiction reminds philosophy that allreason and no play makes thought a very dull thing indeed.Hopefully, this volume will find its way into the hands of thosewho wish to discover something about the highly technologicalworld-view and horizon of meaning of our current epoch."( Discover Magazine , November 2010)

" Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel toSuperintelligence (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2009), Schneidermines time travel, artificial intelligence, robot rights,teleportation, and genetic modification to discuss the nature ofspace and time, free will, transhumanism, the self, neuroethics,and reality." ( Discover , December 2010)

"Divided into five parts following themes arising from centralquestions in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, it intimatelyand intelligently ties works of art, which vividly bring to lifethe aforementioned thought experiments, together with exceptionallythought-provoking philosophical articles inspired and enlightenedby the storytelling. It is not, as some edited collections tend tobe, a disparate aggregate, but a successful marriage of art withanalytic philosophy. It supports not only Schneider s but an evenstronger argument: that a good science fiction story is very oftena philosophical argument in disguise. If science fiction andphilosophy give you pleasure, you may enjoy reading this hookimmensely." ( Mind & Machines , Fall 2010)

"Looking over the pages one can see Schneider s attentionto detail ... .Schneider has obviously made her choices fortheir accessibility and we should applaud her for this ... .Thecollection stands as an important and provocative dialogue betweentwo very rich areas of contemporary cultures and societies. Science Fiction and Philosophy gives us a chance to redeemscience fiction ... and take the questions it poses seriouslyand with a critical gaze. This volume will be of interest toaudiences read in science fiction, philosophy of science,philosophy of time, philosophy of mind, consciousness studies,epistemology, robot ethics and bio-ethics and biotechnology andgeneral audiences alike." ( Metapsychology )
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Review quote

"Science Fiction and Philosophy brings two areas together and into a dialogue: philosophy holds the fantasmatic enjoyment of science fiction to account for its illusions and awesome possibilities while science fiction reminds philosophy that all reason and no play makes thought a very dull thing indeed. Hopefully, this volume will find its way into the hands of those who wish to discover something about the highly technological world-view and horizon of meaning of our current epoch." (Discover Magazine, November 2010) "Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2009), Schneider mines time travel, artificial intelligence, robot rights, teleportation, and genetic modification to discuss the nature of space and time, free will, transhumanism, the self, neuroethics, and reality." (Discover, December 2010) "Divided into five parts following themes arising from central questions in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics, it intimately and intelligently ties works of art, which vividly bring to life the aforementioned thought experiments, together with exceptionally thought-provoking philosophical articles inspired and enlightened by the storytelling. It is not, as some edited collections tend to be, a disparate aggregate, but a successful marriage of art with analytic philosophy. It supports not only Schneider's but an even stronger argument: that a good science fiction story is very often a philosophical argument in disguise. If science fiction and philosophy give you pleasure, you may enjoy reading this hook immensely." (Mind & Machines, Fall 2010) "Looking over the pages one can see Schneider's attention to detail ... .Schneider has obviously made her choices for their accessibility and we should applaud her for this ... .The collection stands as an important and provocative dialogue between two very rich areas of contemporary cultures and societies. Science Fiction and Philosophy gives us a chance to redeem science fiction ... and take the questions it poses seriously and with a critical gaze. This volume will be of interest to audiences read in science fiction, philosophy of science, philosophy of time, philosophy of mind, consciousness studies, epistemology, robot ethics and bio-ethics and biotechnology and general audiences alike." (Metapsychology)
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About Susan Schneider

Susan Schneider is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, and a faculty member in Penn's Neuroethics program, its Institute for Research in Cognitive Science, and its Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. She is also a fellow with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. She is the author of numerous pieces in philosophy of mind, neuroethics, and metaphysics, and has co-edited The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007) with Max Velmans.
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Rating details

246 ratings
3.78 out of 5 stars
5 26% (63)
4 38% (94)
3 28% (68)
2 5% (13)
1 3% (8)
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