Thursday, May 07, 2015

List of Philosophical Science Fiction / Speculative Fiction

I've just updated my list of "philosophically interesting" SF -- about 400 total recommendations from 40 contributors, along with brief "pitches" for each work that point toward the work's philosophical interest. All of the contributors are either professional philosophers or professional SF writers with graduate training in philosophy.

The version sorted by author (or director, for movies) is organized so that the most frequently recommended authors appear first on the list. What SF authors are the biggest hits with the philosophy crowd? Now you know! (Or you will know, shortly after you click.)

There's also a version sorted by recommender. If you scan through to find works you love, then you can see which contributors recommended those works. Since you have overlapping tastes, you might want to especially check out their other recommendations.


Josef Simpson said...

Hello Dr. Schwitzgebel. I came across this post and the list and was thrilled by all the stuff I have yet to read. I was wondering if you know of, or could reach out via this blog to those who posted about philosophy and spec fic, any story (preferably) or book that deals with the idea of the constitution of knowledge. Specifically, I am going to be teaching a course on philosophy and sci fi in the fall and I want to cover some feminist epistemology and I want a good thought experiment that highlights the idea that what constitutes knowledge varies depending on the knower. This idea is a salient feature of feminist epistemology and I thought there must be something that illustrates in in spec fic. The best I know of as of right now is LeGuin's The Word for World is Forest, but it may be too long given other assigned reading. I am also interested in extended mind issues in spec fic, but of a more radical kind than that which merely relies on external devices like tablets and cell phones. Maybe something involving bio-mods or implants, perhaps. Thanks! Josef

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

I'm glad you like the list, and I hope you'll pitch in when/if you meet the contributor criteria!

I still have a lot of SF reading to do myself, so I'm drawing a blank myself on both of those questions. Lots of bio mod in recent SF, but *also* making it a philosophically interesting exploration of the extended mind -- that totally could be done, probably has been done, but maybe it depends on what you're looking for. I taught a philosophy/SF seminar last quarter and I'd be happy to share what we did. One trio that synergized nicely was Egan's "Reasons to Be Cheerful", Bakker's "Crash Space", and Frankfurt's "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person" -- all about taking control of your desires, in different ways.