Books  |  ,   |  January 8, 2016

Science Fiction and Philosophy: From Time Travel to Superintelligence, Second Edition

Book Edited by Susan Schneider.
Published by Wiley-Blackwell.
432 pages.

Featuring numerous updates and enhancements, Science Fiction and Philosophy, 2nd Edition, presents a collection of readings that utilize concepts developed from science fiction to explore a variety of classic and contemporary philosophical issues.

  • Uses science fiction to address a series of classic and contemporary philosophical issues, including many raised by recent scientific developments
  • Explores questions relating to transhumanism, brain enhancement, time travel, the nature of the self, and the ethics of artificial intelligence
  • Features numerous updates to the popular and highly acclaimed first edition, including new chapters addressing the cutting-edge topic of the technological singularity
  • Draws on a broad range of science fiction’s more familiar novels, films, and TV series, including I, RobotThe Hunger GamesThe MatrixStar TrekBlade Runner, and Brave New World
  • Provides a gateway into classic philosophical puzzles and topics informed by the latest technology

Table of Contents


  • 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; Avatar; Ender’s Game; The Hunger Games; Simulacron‐3; Ubik; Tron; Permutation City; Vanilla Sky; Total Recall 
  • Reinstalling Eden: Happiness on a Hard Drive — Eric Schwitzgebel and R. Scott Bakker
  • Are You in a Computer Simulation? — Nick Bostrom
  • Plato’s Cave. Excerpt from The RepublicPlato
  • Some Cartesian thought Experiments. Excerpt from The Meditations on First PhilosophyRené Descartes
  • The Matrix as Metaphysics — David J. Chalmers

Part II What Am I? Free Will and the Nature of Persons

  • Related Works:Moon; Software; Star Trek, The Next Generation: Second Chances; Mindscan; The Matrix; Diaspora; Blindsight; Permutation City; Kiln People; The Gods Themselves; Jerry Was a Man; Nine Lives; Minority Report 
  • Where Am I? — Daniel C. Dennett
  • Personal Identity — Eric Olson
  • Divided Minds and the Nature of Persons — Derek Parfit
  • Who Am I? What Am I? — Ray Kurzweil
  • Free Will and Determinism in the World of Minority ReportMichael Huemer
  • Excerpt from “The Book of Life: A Thought Experiment” — Alvin I. Goldman

Part III Mind: Natural, Artificial, Hybrid, and Superintelligent

  • Related Works:Transcendence; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Humans; Blade Runner; AI; Frankenstein; Accelerando; Terminator; I, Robot; Neuromancer; Last and First Men; His Master’s Voice; The Fire Upon the Deep; Solaris; Stories of your Life
  • Robot Dreams — Isaac Asimov
  • A Brain Speaks — Andy Clark
  • Cyborgs Unplugged — Andy Clark
  • Superintelligence and Singularity — Ray Kurzweil
  • The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis — David J. Chalmers
  • Alien Minds — Susan Schneider

Part IV Ethical and Political Issues

  • Related Works:Brave New World; Ender’s Game; Johnny Mnemonic; Gattaca; I, Robot; Terminator; 2001: A Space Odyssey; Mindscan; Autofac; Neuromancer; Planet of the Apes; Children of Men; Nineteen Eighty‐Four; Player Piano; For a Breath I Tarry; Diamond Age
  • The Man on the Moon — George J. Annas
  • Mindscan: Transcending and Enhancing the Human Brain — Susan Schneider
  • The Doomsday Argument — John Leslie
  • The Last Question — Isaac Asimov
  • Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics” and Machine Metaethics — Susan Leigh Anderson
  • The Control Problem. Excerpts from Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, StrategiesNick Bostrom

Part V Space and Time

  • Related Works:Interstellar; Twelve Monkeys; Slaughterhouse‐Five; All You Zombies; The Time Machine; Back to the Future; Flatland: A Romance in Many Dimensions; Anathem
  • A Sound of Thunder — Ray Bradbury
  • Time — Theodore Sider
  • The Paradoxes of Time Travel — David Lewis
  • The Quantum Physics of Time Travel — David Deutsch and Michael Lockwood
  • Miracles and Wonders: Science Fiction as Epistemology — Richard Hanley
  • Appendix: Philosophers Recommend Science Fiction — Eric Schwitzgebel

About the Author

Susan Schneider is a Philosophy Professor at the University of Connecticut and a Fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies. She is the author of The Language of Thought: a New Philosophical Direction (2011) and the co-author, with Max Velmans, of The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (2006).