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This collection of 18 chapters by talented philosophical minds probes some of the many lessons to be learned from Orange Is the New Black. The show and the book that inspired it both dramatically highlight the troubling, stressful situation of millions of incarcerated Americans.
How do the show’s shower scenes shed light on the classical mind-body problem? How can we make our lives meaningful when our options are curtailed by authority? What does it mean to manipulate someone, and why is it bad? What can we learn about human beliefs from Pennsatucky’s notion of the gay agenda? Is Litchfield Prison a preparation for life outside or just a scale model of life outside? What could the governors of Litchfield learn from Jeremy Bentham and his panopticon? How is it that even in prison we find ourselves condemned to be free? Why is one of the worst things about prison being forced to see who and what we really are?
It so happens that life in prison is overfull of philosophical implications. Orange Is the New Black and Philosophy stays close to the characters and scenes of the TV show, applying insights from ethics, existentialism, metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy.
Richard Greene is Professor of Philosophy at Weber State University in Utah. He is co-editor of many volumes in the Popular Culture and Philosophy series, including Girls and Philosophy, Dexter and Philosophy, and Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy. He lives in Ogden, UT.
Rachel Robison-Greene is co-editor of Girls and Philosophy, Dexter and Philosophy, and The Golden Compass and Philosophy. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and lives in Ogden UT.