Blade Runner 2049: A Philosophical Exploration, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Blade Runner 2049

A Philosophical Exploration, 1st Edition

Edited by Timothy Shanahan, Paul Smart


272 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9781138625334
pub: 2019-10-03
Available for pre-order
Hardback: 9781138625303
pub: 2019-10-03
Available for pre-order

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Widely acclaimed as a future classic on its release, Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is visually stunning, philosophically profound, and a provocative extension of the story in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Containing specially commissioned chapters by a roster of international contributors, this fascinating collection explores the philosophical questions that abound in Blade Runner 2049, including:

  • What does it mean to be "real"?
  • What distinguishes the authentically "human" person from the mere simulacrum?
  • What are the essential conditions for personhood?
  • How does the fact of being born inform one’s experience of being-in-the-world?
  • How might shared memories feature in the constitution of personal identities?
  • What happens when created beings transcend the limits intended in their design?
  • Can a hologrammatic artificial intelligence have its own subjective experiences?
  • To what degree are all conscious experiences akin to controlled hallucinations?
  • What essential feature defines intimate relationships of romance, sex, and love?
  • How might developing artificial economics impact our behaviour as prosumers?
  • What are the implications of techno-human enhancement in an era of surveillance capitalism?
  • How might distinct cinematic worlds nevertheless be narratively "interlinked"?
  • What, if anything, can we really know about fictional truths?

Including a foreword by Denis Villeneuve, Blade Runner 2049: A Philosophical Exploration is essential reading for anyone interested in philosophy, film studies, philosophy of mind, psychology, gender studies, and conceptual issues in cognitive science and artificial intelligence.


"To think that Blade Runner 2049 sparked such conversations and stimulated such reflections about humanity and artificial intelligence sincerely deeply moves me… That is one of the reasons I love the very existence of this book." - Denis Villeneuve, Director of Blade Runner 2049

Table of Contents

Foreword Denis Villeneuve

Introduction Timothy Shanahan and Paul Smart

1. We’re All Just Looking Out for Something Real Timothy Shanahan

2. The Alphabet of Us: Miracles, Messianism, and the Baseline Test in Blade Runner 2049 Stephen Mulhall

3. The "Miracle" of Replicant Reproduction Fiona Woollard

4. Being-from-Birth: Natality and Narrative Brian Treanor

5. The Best Memories: Identity, Narrative, and Objects Richard Heersmink and Christopher Jude McCarroll

6. Breaking the Code: Strong Agency and Becoming a Person Robert W. Clowes

7. The Joi of Holograms Paul Smart

8. Androids Dream of Virtual Sheep Wanja Wiese and Thomas Metzinger

9. Her Eyes Were Green: Intimate Relationships in Blade Runner 2049 Timothy Shanahan

10. Artificial Economics Paul Smart

11. The Eyes of God Nigel Shadbolt and Paul Smart

12. What Am I to You? The Deck-a-Rep Debate and the Question of Fictional Truth Timothy Shanahan.


About the Editors

Timothy Shanahan is Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, USA, and the author of Philosophy and Blade Runner (2014).

Paul Smart is a Researcher at the New University of Lisbon, Portugal, a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Southampton, UK, and a free-lance cognitive science consultant, specializing in machine learning and virtual reality technologies.

About the Series

Philosophers on Film

'The true significance of film for philosophy, and of philosophy for film, cannot be established in abstract or general terms. It can only be measured in and through individual philosophers' attempts to account for their experience of specific films. This series promises to provide a productive context for that indispensable enterprise.' – Stephen Mulhall, Fellow and Reader in Philosophy, New College, Oxford

Film is increasingly used to introduce and discuss key topics and problems in philosophy, whilst some films raise important philosophical questions of their own. Yet until now, dependable resources for those studying and teaching philosophy and film have been limited. Philosophers on Film answers this growing need and is the first series of its kind. Each volume assembles a team of international contributors who explore a single film in depth. Beginning with an introduction by the editor, each specially-commissioned chapter discusses a key aspect of the film in question.

Additional features include a biography of the director and suggestions for further reading, making the series ideal for anyone studying philosophy, film and anyone with a general interest in the philosophical dimensions of cinema.

Learn more…

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