Philosophy Through Science Fiction

Routledge, 2008

The aim of this book is to bring philosophy to a wider audience of intelligent, exploratory thinkers who will appreciate situating canonical big questions in the context of the future and the past. In addition to a substantive introduction to the major arguments and positions, each of the seven chapters (philosophical method and disagreement, knowledge and skepticism, free will, spacetime and time travel, the mind, personal identity, and religion and God) contains a science fiction story, an excerpt of an important historical work, and a contemporary piece. 

Here are two examples. The religion and God chapter includes a thorough, 8,000-word discussion of the arguments, an excerpt of David Hume on the design argument, a paper written by leading philosopher of religion Stephen Wykstra on the argument from evil, and Ted Chiang's must-read "Hell is the Absence of God." The knowledge and skepticism chapter includes a thorough introduction to types of skepticism, foundationalism, closure principles, and fallibilism, and is followed by Plato's allegory of the cave, Descartes' Meditations 1 and 2, a brilliant piece on Nick Bostrom's simulation argument by Alistair Richmond, and an essential short story from Philip K. Dick called "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." I rewrote this book from an earlier, dated version called Thought Probes, edited by Nick Smith and Fred Miller. 

Read the chapter on knowledge and the simulation argument (PDF) →