PHIL E-102 Power and Responsibility: Doing Philosophy with Superheroes
Pow! Bang! Kaboom! Superhero stories, first arriving on the scene in the late 1930s, are now among the most popular forms of global entertainment. From Superman's embrace of truth, justice, and the American way to Wonder Woman's efforts at promoting peace rather than war, from Spider-Man's personal struggles at balancing his romantic life with his crime fighting exploits to the X-Men's social struggles with combating prejudice and antagonism, the world has turned its attention to these colorful and larger-than-life narratives, which first emerged in comic books and radio shows but now are also widely found in film, television, and video games. This course leverages the enthusiasm over superheroes to introduce students to core areas of philosophy—metaphysics and epistemology, social and political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of mind, and more. By directly engaging these fantastic narratives, it demonstrates that behind the four-colored panels are stories and characters of depth and complexity, affording us many opportunities to learn important and substantive philosophical ideas in a fresh and exciting way.