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Authenticity, duty, and empathy in do androids dream of electric sheep?

Michael Zimmerman

pp. 75-92

This essay uses Martin Heidegger's views on authenticity in Being and Time to illuminate the struggle to be genuinely human as depicted in Phillip K. Dick's influential novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). On an Earth gravely wounded by atomic war, bounty hunter Rick Deckard "retires" (kills) advanced androids when they flee from off-world colonies to Earth. As Deckard begins feeling empathy for androids, he becomes morally conflicted about retiring them. Wilbur Mercer, a mysterious religious figure, persuades Deckard that higher duty justifies the otherwise immoral act of slaying androids. DADES points up the moral risks involved in defining authenticity as conforming to a "higher" duty that allegedly trumps empathy and compassion. In so doing, DADES offers possible lessons for Heidegger's concept of authenticity, insofar as it played a role in his 1933 decision to support National Socialism.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9442-8_6

Full citation:

Zimmerman, M.E. (2015)., Authenticity, duty, and empathy in do androids dream of electric sheep?, in H. Pedersen & M. Altman (eds.), Horizons of authenticity in phenomenology, existentialism, and moral psychology, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 75-92.

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