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Philip K. Dick and Philosophy cover 

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ISBN 978-0-8126-9739-1


288 pages

Fall 2011


About the contributors to Philip K. Dick and Philosophy

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Paul Atkinson is a Lecturer in the School of Applied Media and Social Sciences at Monash University in Australia. His main area of research is the intersection between time and visual culture. He only has a theoretical interest in time travel, for the thought of traveling into the future, only to find that it is pretty much the same as today, horrifies him.

Ross Barham spends his days as Head of Philosophy at Melbourne High School, and his nights as a Doctorial Candidate at the University of Melbourne. Somewhere in the cracks of space-time he also manifests as a new father, an Aikidoka, and a hobby farmer.

Eric Beck is a freelance editor and writer who lives on a farm that is home to goats and sheep, none of whom are electric but whose doe-eyed stares do, like the story of the wub, make him occasionally question his carnivorous eating practices.

Andrew M. Butler remembers teaching film and cultural studies, but is convinced that that was his nephew’s memories. Books on Philip K. Dick, Terry Pratchett, Cyberpunk, Postmodernism, and Film Studies have been published with his name on them, but it was the voices that told him what to write. He is currently writing about his version of science fiction of the 1970s. He always reaches for the light switch on the wrong side of the doorway.

Jesse W. Butler is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Central Arkansas, where he splits his brain between philosophical reflection on self-knowledge and trying to live a good life with his wife and two children. It isn’t always easy to do both, but he’s managed to avoid the need for holo-scanners so far. If anyone knows where to find a good cephalochromoscope, though, please let him know.

Gerard Casey believes that work is the curse of the thinking class. He watches far too many noir movies and listens to ridiculous amounts of mainly classical music when not distracted by the demands of his day job teaching and writing about political philosophy at University College Dublin.

Philip Kindred Dick was born in Chicago in 1928. His twin sister died six weeks after birth, and Dick later blamed their mother for the death. Dick’s parents divorced, and Dick grew up with his mother in Berkeley. He read his first science-fiction story in 1940. His first published story, “Beyond Lies the Wub,” appeared in 1953. He wrote forty-four published novels and over 120 short stories. His novel The Man in the High Castle received the Hugo Award. Dick had a fanatical following among hard-core sci-fi addicts, but only achieved the wider fame which rescued him from poverty toward the end of his life. More major Hollywood movies have been made of Dick’s work than of any other writer except Stephen King, but Dick only lived to see the first of these, Blade Runner. His novel Ubik has been listed as one of the hundred best English-language novels published since the 1920s. In early 1974 Dick experienced powerful visions which influenced his later novels such as VALIS and The Divine Invasion, and which he explored in philosophical meditations, now published as The Exegesis of Philip K. Dick. Dick was married five times. He died in 1982.

Built from cloned organs, Dan Dinello resembles a Professor in the Film and Video Department of Columbia College Chicago where he was recently named its Distinguished Faculty Scholar. Though confused by his memory implants, he wrote the book Technophobia!, directed episodes of Strangers with Candy, and runs the website

Don Fallis is Associate Professor of Information Resources and Adjunct Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Arizona. He has written several articles on lying and deception, including “What Is Lying?,” Journal of Philosophy (2009) and “The Most Terrific Liar You Ever Saw in Your Life” in The Catcher in the Rye and Philosophy (forthcoming). Like PKD, he spent many years of his life in Orange County. And he can confirm that it’s easy to lose track of what is real and what is not, especially if you live near Disneyland or in one of the “off-world colonies” (aka “planned communities”) in South County.

Richard Feist is Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Saint Paul University. During a meeting with the Rector’s agents, where everyone wore a scramble suit, Dr. Feist was told to monitor the philosophy professors and to concentrate on the activities of Dr. Feist. To this day Skype makes Dr. Feist nervous; he remains unsure as to which video image he should speak. Despite his paranoia, Dr. Feist insists that he has published a number of books and articles on ethics and metaphysics. But he denies passing on his phobias to students.

Michelle Gallagher Is an early modern scholar who laments the fact that science fiction is not recognized as a subfield of philosophy. She’s convinced that in some alternate universe Philip K. Dick is celebrated as the visionary founder of a school of neo-skepticism which dominates philosophical literature. In anticipation of the day when travel to that universe is possible, she has read every PKD story in print at least three times.

Patrick Grace is a lawyer in the Washington DC Metro area (who isn’t?), has done legal commentary on talk radio (ditto), and teaches Postmodern Jurisprudence with his co-author George Teschner. He is hard at work developing innovative strategies to corner a future market of new clientele—androids who have been charged with DUI.

Ronald S. Green’s true name may not be spoken. After creating and entering the amnesia labyrinth in which we all currently wander, his children at the University of Wisconsin amusingly awarded Him a PhD in Buddhist Studies. He encodes pink light transmissions at Coastal Carolina University, awaiting the student who will remember.

G.C. Goddu is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Richmond where he specializes in metaphysics and logic. In between dreaming up new ways to make time-travel stories consistent, he tries to determine if any of his students are replicants and to convince them that he is not an alien imposter.

Benjamin Huff is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Randolph- Macon College. His research and teaching interests include virtue ethics, Chinese philosophy, philosophy of religion, and free will. He doesn’t remember ever going to Mars, but has spent a lot of nights camping in the deserts of Utah and Saudi Arabia, written patent applications for a space startup company, and applied for a pioneer spot in the Virgin Galactic/Google colonization plan (still waiting to hear back on that one!).

Paul Livingston lives in the Sandia Mountains outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, and teaches and writes on the nature of mind, language, and reality. He’s the author of three books: Philosophical History and the Problem of Consciousness (2004), Philosophy and the Vision of Language (2008), and the forthcoming Politics of Logic (2011). In their spare time, electric sheep dream of him.

Heath Massey is an amazingly lifelike construct programmed to function as a teaching machine. As an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Beloit College, he offers a convincing illusion of enthusiasm and genuine wonder. His students only suspect that he is a mechanical artifice when he slips a gear and repeats the same phase of his cycle until a technician is called in to perform repairs. He is the author of The Origin of Time: Heidegger and Bergson and co-translator of Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Institution and Passivity. Recently he has been making the most of his time with his newborn son, Theo.

Matthew McCall is currently a graduate student in Philosophy at Ohio State University, where he enjoys laboring over the thoughts of Early Modern philosophers. He’s undecided on whether or not he is part of a blob. He would like it to be true, though, so that he can necessarily overcome and understand the strange behavior of his cat, Phil 2420 (whose namesake is, of course, one amazing science fiction writer).

Louis Melançon has lost several oxfords trying to pinpoint the exact moment the Principle of Sufficient Irritation occurs. To date he has only made a mess of the oven (the most convenient source of heat), confused the garbage man over the state of old footwear and slightly miffed his wife (not quite sufficient irritation). Louis is a US Army officer with combat arms and intelligence experiences ranging from the tactical to strategic levels. He holds master’s degrees from the Joint Military Intelligence College (now National Defense Intelligence College) as well as King’s College, London, and has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal. He has been published in Military Review and contributed to Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Mission Accomplished or Mission Frakked Up?, Anime and Philosophy: Wide Eyed Wonder, and Dune and Philosophy: Weirding Way of the Mentat.

Ethan Mills is a sci-fi nerd who happens to be a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of New Mexico where he studies epistemology and Indian philosophy and teaches a variety of classes. He lives with his wife, Beth, and cat, Elsie. He previously contributed to Stephen Colbert and Philiosophy: I Am Philosophy (And So Can You!). The idea for his chapter in this volume was caused by showing Minority Report to his Philosophy 101 students. He wonders if his dissertation on skepticism in ancient India would be better if he were replaced by a skeptical android . . . unless of course he already is that android.

Peter Murphy is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Indianapolis. He is most interested in applied ethics and epistemology. Unlike Steven Spielberg, he’s looking forward to a future with a Division of Precrime.

Justin Nicholas is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in philosophy at York College of Pennsylvania. He is rather notorious among friends for owning a cat that he vehemently hates. When asked why he keeps it, he simply mumbles something about a strange religion and complains that the township code prevents the keeping of animals on roofs.

A Rexorian who replaced Travis Paterson—years ago, probably—is a graduate student in Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. Assuming, at least, that that Rexorian has not himself been replaced by an Outspace Imposter.

Jeremy Pierce is a PhD student at Syracuse University and teaches at Le Moyne College. He works in such diverse areas as metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of race and has previously written popular culture and philosophy pieces on Harry Potter, X-Men, and Lost. Jeremy spends much of his free time trying to figure out how to make use of the prophetic abilities of his two autistic children, so far to no avail.

Ben Saunders is currently Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Stirling in the UK. His research interests include democracy, lotteries and, in particular, their intersection. He has previously written about the relation between lotteries and penalty shoot-outs in Soccer and Philosophy: Beautiful Thoughts on the Beautiful Game (2010). Unfortunately, he can’t see the future, or he’d be a retired lottery winner by now.

Alf Seegert is Assistant Professor (Lecturer) in the Department of English at the University of Utah. In addition to teaching and publishing on nature and virtuality, he designs internationally published Euro-style board games themed on trolls and The Canterbury Tales. His cats are still not sure if he’s a real human being or a cunningly contrived simulation. His homepage is at

Peter Simons is Professor of Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin. He has worked in England, Ireland, and Austria, researches in metaphysics and logic, has written two books and over two hundred articles. When not sleeping or philosophizing he likes hill walking and choral singing.

Benjamin Stevens teaches literature and languages at Bard College as well as music history and theory around the country. Having witnessed the end of the Cold War, he wonders whether it was by human, machine, or extraterrestrial action . . . or all three, each in its own parallel universe. When not writing about literature—including the classics, science fiction, and comics—or writing his own poetry he organizes curricula at a cappella music festivals.

John Sullins putters about in the small land of Sonoma County California, an area Dick described as: “a well settled farm area, and very hot. A very dull area. Just right for a barbershop.” He lives there with his wife and two daughters. He’s an associate professor of philosophy at Sonoma State University where he lectures about the ambiguous distinctions between humans and robots, a problem his students don’t seem to be all that worried about.

David Svolba earned his PhD in Philosophy in 2008 from the University of Chicago. He taught philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago between 2006 and 2010, and is currently a visiting lecturer in Philosophy at the Jesuit University of Philosophy and Education in Krakow, Poland. Although he saw Blade Runner in his youth, he didn’t really discover the world of Philip K. Dick until recently and has no plans on leaving that world anytime soon.

George Teschner teaches courses in Philosophy of Technology, Human and Machine Intelligence, Contemporary Continental Philosophy, and Philosophy and Literary Theory at Christopher Newport University in Virginia. He teaches with the conviction that language speaks us, rather than we speak language, and is expecting to get rich quick by designing the Teschner Artificial Thought Simulator modeled after the Penfield Artificial Mood Simulator of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Richard Visković is a PhD candidate at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, where he is completing a thesis on Philip K. Dick and Philosophy. He hopes that in an alternate universe, Philip Dick is writing a thesis about Richard D.D. Viskovic, but suspects such a thing is beyond the bounds of even the most speculative fiction.

Dennis Weiss is Professor of Philosophy at York College of Pennsylvania where he teaches courses on and writes about human nature, technology, film, and science fiction, exploring those ubiquitous themes of Dick’s science fiction but alas in far more mundane ways. But, wait, isn’t the mundanity of life a Dick theme too?

D.E. Wittkower exists simultaneously in multiple timelines: one in which he is a father-thing to two exceptional children and four wonderful cats; another in which he teaches philosophy of technology and computer ethics as an Assistant Professor at Old Dominion University; another in which he has edited iPod and Philosophy, Mr. Monk and Philosophy, and Facebook and Philosophy; and yet another in which he has written articles and book chapters on topics including business ethics, copyright law, friendship, and online culture. He may or may not be from the future.

Sara Worley is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bowling Green State University. She works mostly in philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychiatry. She doesn’t think she’s planning on committing any crimes, but apparently you never know. She’s hoping the Adjustment Bureau will come and do some adjusting.

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