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The Good Place and Philosophy Everything is Forking Fine!

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2020-09-23
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

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Supplemental Materials

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Dive into the moral philosophy at the heart of all four seasons of NBC’s The Good Place, guided by academic experts including the show’s philosophical consultants Pamela Hieronymi and Todd May, and featuring a foreword from creator and showrunner Michael Schur 

  • Explicitly dedicated to the philosophical concepts, questions, and fundamental ethical dilemmas at the heart of the thoughtful and ambitious NBC sitcom The Good Place
  • Navigates the murky waters of moral philosophy in more conceptual depth to call into question what Chidi’s ethics lessons—and the show—get right about learning to be a good person
  • Features contributions from The Good Place’s philosophical consultants, Pamela Hieronymi and Todd May, and introduced by the show’s creator and showrunner Michael Schur (Parks and Recreation, The Office)
  • Engages classic philosophical questions, including the clash between utilitarianism and deontological ethics in the “Trolley Problem,” Kant’s categorical imperative, Sartre’s nihilism, and T.M Scanlon's contractualism
  • Explores themes such as death, love, moral heroism, free will, responsibility, artificial intelligence, fatalism, skepticism, virtue ethics, perception, and the nature of autonomy in the surreal heaven-like afterlife of the Good Place
  • Led by Kimberly S. Engels, co-editor of Westworld and Philosophy


Author Biography

Kimberly S. Engels is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, New York. She is the author of numerous book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles, and is the co-editor of Westworld and Philosophy and the International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics. Her research centers on Sartrean existentialism as a contemporary lived philosophy, and the application of ethical philosophy to contemporary ethical issues in the news and media.

William Irwin is Herve A. LeBlanc Distinguished Service Professor and Chair of Philosophy at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He is the author of Intentionalist Interpretation and scholarly articles on Sartre, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Irwin originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books with Seinfeld and Philosophy in 1999 and is currently the General Editor of The Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series.

Table of Contents

Contributors ix

Editor’s Introduction and Acknowledgments: “We are Not in This Alone” xvii
Kimberly S. Engels

Foreword xix
Michael Schur, creator of The Good Place

Introduction xxiii
Pamela Hieronymi and Todd May, philosophical advisors to The Good Place

Part I “I Just Ethics’d You in the Face” 1

1 How Do You Like Them Ethics? 3
David Baggett and Marybeth Baggett

2 Don’t Let the Good Life Pass You By: Doug Forcett and the Limits of Self-Sacrifice 15
Greg Littmann

3 Luck and Fairness in The Good Place 25
Scott A. Davison and Andrew R. Davison

Part II “Virtuous for Virtue’s Sake” 35

4 Can Eleanor Really Become a Better Person? 37
Eric J. Silverman and Zachary Swanson

5 The Good Place and The Good Life 47
C. Scott Sevier

6 The Ethics of Indecision: Why Chidi Anagonye Belongs in The Bad Place 57
Traci Phillipson

Part III “All Those Ethics Lessons Paid Off” 65

7 Moral Absurdity and Care Ethics in The Good Place 67
Laura Matthews

8 The Medium Place: Third Space, Morality, and Being In Between 75
Catherine M. Robb

9 What We May Learn from Michael’s Solution to the Trolley Problem 87
Andreas Bruns

Part IV “Help Is Other People” 97

10 Some Memories You May Have Forgotten: Holding Space for Each Other When Memory Fails 99
Alison Reiheld

11 The Good Other 110
Steven A. Benko

12 Not Knowing Your Place: A Tale of Two Women 121
Leslie A. Aarons

Part V “Absurdity Needs to Be Confronted” 131

13 Marginal Comforts Keep Us in Hell 133
Jake Jackson

14 “I Would Refuse to Be a God if It Were Offered to Me”: Architects and Existentialism in The Good Place 141
Kimberly S. Engels

Part VI “Searching for Meaning Is Philosophical Suicide” 153

15 Death, Meaning, and Existential Crises 155
Kiki Berk

16 From Indecision to Ambiguity: Simone de Beauvoir and Chidi’s Moral Growth 166
Matthew P. Meyer

17 Beyond Good and Evil Places: Eternal Return of the Superhuman 178
James Lawler

Part VII “The Dalai Lama Texted Me That” 189

18 Conceptions of the Afterlife: The Good Place and Religious Tradition 191
Michael McGowan

19 Who are Chidi and Eleanor in a Past-(After)Life? The Buddhist Notion of No-Self 202
Dane Sawyer

Part VIII “Sometimes a Flaw Can Make Something Even More Beautiful” 211

20 Hell Is Other People’s Tastes 213
Darren Hudson Hick and Sarah E. Worth

21 Why Everyone Hates Moral Philosophy Professors: The Aesthetics of Shallowness 224
T Storm Heter

Part IX “Oh Cool, More Philosophy! That Will Help Us.” 237

22 An Epistemological Nightmare? Ways of Knowing in The Good Place 239
Dean A. Kowalski

23 What’s the Use of Free Will? 249
Joshua Tepley

24 From Clickwheel through Busty Alexa: The Embodied Case for Janet as Artificial Intelligence 260
Robin L. Zebrowski

25 Why It Wouldn’t Be Rational to Believe You’re in The Good Place (and Why You Wouldn’t Want to Be Anyway) 270
David Kyle Johnson

Index 283

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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