Dexter and Philosophy: Mind over Spatter

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What explains the huge popular following for Dexter, currently the most-watched show on cable, which sympathetically depicts a serial killer driven by a cruel compulsion to brutally slay one victim after another?
Although Dexter Morgan kills only killers, he is not a vigilante animated by a sense of justice but a charming psychopath animated by a lust to kill, ritualistically and bloodily. However his gory appetite is controlled by “Harry’s Code,” which limits his victims to those who have gotten away with murder, and his job as a blood spatter expert for the Miami police department gives him the inside track on just who those legitimate targets may be.
In Dexter and Philosophy, an elite team of philosophers don their rubber gloves and put Dexter’s deeds under the microscope. Since Dexter is driven to ritual murder by his “Dark Passenger,” can he be blamed for killing, especially as he only murders other murderers? Does Dexter fit the profile of the familiar fictional type of the superhero? What part does luck play in making Dexter who he is? How and why are horror and disgust turned into aesthetic pleasure for the TV viewer? How essential is Dexter’s emotional coldness to his lust for slicing people up? Are Dexter’s lies and deceptions any worse than the lies and deceptions of the non-criminals around him? Why does Dexter long to be a normal human being and why can’t he accomplish this apparently simple goal?
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About the author

Richard Greene is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. He is co-editor of Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy, The Sopranos and Philosophy, Quentin Tarantino and Philosophy, and The Golden Compass and Philosophy.

George Reisch is the author of How the Cold War Transformed the Philosophy of Science and editor of Pink Floyd and Philosophy and co-editor of Monty Python and Philosophy, Radiohead and Philosophy, and Bullshit and Philosophy.

Rachel Robison is completing her Ph.D in philosophy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is co-editor of The Golden Compass and Philosophy.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Court
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Published on
Apr 12, 2011
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9780812697261
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Richard Greene
The Princess Bride is the 1987 satirical adventure movie that had to wait for the Internet and DVDs to become the most quoted of all cult classics. The Princess Bride and Philosophy is for all those who have wondered about the true meaning of “Inconceivable!,” why the name “Roberts” uniquely inspires fear, and whether it’s truly a miracle to restore life to someone who is dead, but not necessarily completely dead.
The Princess Bride is filled with people trying to persuade each other of various things, and invites us to examine the best methods of persuasion. It’s filled with promises, some kept and some broken, and cries out for philosophical analysis of what makes a promise and why promises should be kept. It’s filled with beliefs which go beyond the evidence, and philosophy can help us to decide when such beliefs can be justified. It’s filled with political violence, both by and against the recognized government, and therefore raises all the issues of political philosophy.
Westley, Buttercup, Prince Humperdinck, Inigo Montoya, the giant Fezzik, and the Sicilian Vizzini keep on re-appearing in these pages, as examples of philosophical ideas. Is it right for Montoya to kill the six-fingered man, even though there is no money in the revenge business? What’s the best way to deceive someone who knows you’re trying to deceive him? Are good manners a kind of moral virtue? Could the actions of the masked man in black truly be inconceivable even though real? What does ethics have to say about Miracle Max’s pricing policy? How many shades of meaning can be conveyed by “As You Wish”?
Richard Greene
The drama-comedy show Girls—often under-rated by being perceived as Sex and the City for the Millennial generation—has made TV history and provoked controversy for its pitilessly accurate portrayal of four oddly sympathetic twenty-something female characters, notable for their self-absorption, empathy deficits, and ineptitude with relationships. Among other breakthroughs, it is the first show to depict the sex act among the alienated young as nearly always awkward and unfulfilling.
In Girls and Philosophy, a team of diverse yet always sensitive, empathic, and ept philosophers approach the world of Girls from a variety of angles and philosophical points of view. Underlying this New York world is the new reality of ambitious yet unfocused young people from comparatively advantaged backgrounds having their expectations chilled by the severe and prolonged economic recession.
The writers attack many fascinating issues arising from Girls, including the meaning of authenticity in the twenty-first century, coming of age in a society with no clear guidelines for most of what matters in life,Girls as the only TV show the pop-culture-hating professor Theodor Adorno might have admired, feminist appraisals of these not-very-feminist characters and their frustrations, what the wardrobes of the four mean philosophically, how each of the four deals with the anxiety that comes from inescapable freedom, whether we need to amend the traditional list of seven deadly sins in the context of present-day New York, how the speech of the Millennials illustrates Austin’s theory of speech acts, how the learning of Hannah, Shoshanna, Jessa, and Marnie compares with the ancient Greek theory of the education of the young, and of course, why we once again find it natural to think of women in their early- to mid-twenties as ‘girls’.
Luke Dick
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The chapters in The Rolling Stones and Philosophy celebrate the Stones’ place in our lives by digging into the controversies, the symbols, and meanings the band and its songs have for so many. What might you mean (and what did Mick mean) by “sympathy for the Devil”? Did the Stones share any of the blame for the deaths at Altamont, as critic Lester Bangs charged they did in Rolling Stone magazine? What theories of ethics and personality lay behind the good-boy image of the Beatles and the bad-boy reputation the Stones acquired? If Keith Richards really had his blood replaced four separate times, does that make him a zombie? How do the Glimmer Twins help us refine our understanding of friendship? Written by a dozen philosophers and scholars who adore the Rolling Stones not only for their music, this book will become required reading for anyone seeking maximum satisfaction from "the world's greatest rock and roll band."
Richard Greene

In Orphan Black, several apparently unconnected women discover that they are exact physical doubles, that there are more of them out there, that they are all illegally produced clones, and that someone is having them killed. They find themselves in the midst of a secret and violent struggle between a fundamentalist religious group, a fanatical cult of superhuman biological enhancement, a clandestine department of the military, and a giant biotech corporation. Law enforcement is powerless and easily manipulated by these sinister forces. The clones are forced to form their own Clone Club, led by the resourceful Sarah Manning, to defend themselves against their numerous enemies and to find out exactly where they came from and why.
Orphan Black continually raises philosophical issues, as well as ethical and policy questions deserving philosophical analysis. What makes a person a unique individual? Why is it so important for us to know where we came from? Should we have a say in whether a clone is made of us? Is it immoral to generate clones with built-in health problems or personality defects — and if so, does that mean that producers of clones must practice eugenic selection? What light does the behavior of members of the Clone Club shed on the nature-nurture debate? Is it relevant that most are heterosexual, one is a lesbian, and one is a transgendered male?
This TV show shows us problems of biotechnology which will soon be vital everyday issues. But what kind of a future faces us when human clones are commonplace? Will groups of human clones have a tight bond of solidarity making them a threat to democracy? If the world is going to be taken over by an evil conspiracy, would it better be a scientific cult like Neolution or a religious cult like the Prolethians? Should biotech corporations be able to own the copyright on human DNA sequences? What rules of morality apply when you can’t trust the police and powerful groups are ready to murder you?

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