019. Zombies

A discussion on the rights of the living, the dead, and those in between


Some zombie movies to check out for ethical investigation

  1. Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  2. Return of the Living Dead
  3. Pontypool
  4. Re-Animator
  5. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
  6. REC (2007)
  7. 28 Days Later (and 28 Weeks Later)
  8. Planet Terror
  9. Train to Busan
  10. Zombi 2 / The Beyond


Questions to Ponder

  1. Would you ever eat a human being?
  2. There is generally something we might call “humanness” – a set of behaviors, mammalian situationality, biological facts, etc. – that approximately every human has. How much of this “humanness” is to be found in “zombies”? What about those in comas? Under sedation?
  3. The boring definition question: what are “zombies”?
  4. When are quarantines ethical justifiable? Does the precision brought to bear by modern day mathematical biology allow us to be more or less ethical? Put somewhat orthogonally: is it better to include too many or too few in a quarantine?
  5. What are one’s rights in a pandemic?
  6. Who are we when we are sick?
  7. Is the patient that comes in for treatment the same as the one who leaves after being treated? What if major organs were replaced? What about faces, hands, brains? How much can a person withstand medical treatment while remaining the same? If/When does that patient become significantly different?
  8. Are you satisfied that a government such as the one that has jurisdiction over you is capable of dealing with something equivalent to a zombie outbreak?
  9. Who do zombies think they are? Does it matter? Does it matter “what it’s like to be a bat”?
  10. Monsters are often those beings which patrol the boundaries between the acceptable and the unacceptable, the normal and the grotesque, the healthy and the sick. Vampires, demons, werewolves, ghosts, they all comment upon some of life-itself’s very borders. What boundaries do zombies patrol that are biomedically relevant?
  11. Right now, in a few labs around the world, the most dangerous viruses/bacteria/organisms are being studied by a few individuals. What sort of screening should there be to make sure the “right” people are studying these issues? If something were to go wrong in one of these labs, do think the people involved are sufficiently prepared?
  12. How much would you have to be paid to let a random person/animal bite you?
  13. What do you do in a zombie outbreak?
  14. Would you want to be as zombie?
  15. Favorite zombie movie?


Essays of possible interest

  1. Consciousness: the most critical moral (constitutional) standard for human personhood
  2. CDC preparedness 101: zombie pandemic
  3. Zombies v. materialists
  4. In vitro meat


Those with a particular interest in these sorts of things may wish to learn about the effects of zombies on philosophy are encouraged to read a nice tidy summary over at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.