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Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test

William Irwin (Editor), Mark D. White (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-39685-8
240 pages
January 2009
Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (0470396857) cover image
Alan Moore's Watchmen is set in 1985 and chronicles the alternative history of the United States where the US edges dangerously closer to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Within this world exists a group of crime busters, who don elaborate costumes to conceal their identity and fight crime, and an intricate plot to kill and discredit these "superheroes."

Alan Moore's Watchmen popularized the graphic novel format, has been named one of Time magazine's top 100 novels, and is now being made into a highly anticipated movie adaptation. This latest book in the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series peers into Moore's deeply philosophical work to parse and deconstruct the ethical issues raised by Watchmen's costumed adventurers, their actions, and their world. From nuclear destruction to utopia, from governmental authority to human morality and social responsibility, it answers questions fans have had for years about Watchmen's ethical quandaries, themes, and characters.
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: They Left It Entirely in My Hands.

Introduction: A Rorschach Test.

PART ONE: THE POLITICS OF POWER: WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?

1 The Superman Exists, and He’s American: Morality in the Face of Absolute Power (Christopher Robichaud).

2 Can We Steer This Rudderless World? Kant, Rorschach, Retributivism, and Honor (Jacob M. Held).

3 Super-Vigilantes and the Keene Act (Tony Spanakos).

4 Superheroes and Supermen: Finding Nietzsche’s Übermensch in Watchmen (J. Keeping).

PART TWO: THE VEIDT PLAN: WATCHMEN AND ETHICS.

5 Means, Ends, and the Critique of Pure Superheroes (J. Robert Loftis).

6 The Virtues of Nite Owl’s Potbelly (Mark D. White).

7 Rorschach: When Telling the Truth Is Wrong (Alex Nuttall).

PART THREE: THE METAPHYSICS OF DR. MANHATTAN.

8 Dr. Manhattan, I Presume? (James DiGiovanna).

9 A Timely Encounter: Dr. Manhattan and Henri Bergson (Christopher M. Drohan).

10 Free Will and Foreknowledge: Does Jon Really Know What Laurie Will Do Next, and Can She Do Otherwise? (Arthur Ward).

11 I’m Just a Puppet Who Can See the Strings: Dr. Manhattan as a Stoic Sage (Andrew Terjesen).

PART FOUR: THIS IS NOT YOUR FATHER’S COMIC BOOK.

12 “Why Don’t You Go Read a Book or Something?” Watchmen as Literature (Aaron Meskin).

13 Watchwomen (Sarah Donovan and Nick Richardson).

14 Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis: The Ambiguously Gay Duo (Robert Arp).

15 What’s So Goddamned Funny? The Comedian and Rorschach on Life’s Way (Taneli Kukkonen).

CONTRIBUTORS: Who Writes about the Watchmen?

I N DEX: After the Masquerade.

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Mark D. White is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science, Economics, and Philosophy at the College of Staten Island/CUNY and coeditor of Batman and Philosophy.
William Irwin is a professor of philosophy at King's College. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as coeditor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen recent titles, including Batman and Philosophy, House and Philosophy, and Watchmen and Philosophy.
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January 12, 2009
Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test

Watchmen is widely considered the greatest graphic novel of all time, receiving critical acclaim by both the comics and mainstream press. Along with the highly anticipated movie adaption,  Watchmen and Philosophy: A Rorschach Test (Wiley, $17.95; January 2009) is the ideal companion book for the most avid fan. The bok provides all the philosophical insight into the story that will make readers view Watchmen in a completely new light.          

The philosophy that Alan Moore explores in Watchmen is what makes it one of the most fascinating and complex comics ever written. Watchmen and Philosophy peers deeply into this philosophical work to deconstruct the ethical issues raised by Watchmen's costumed adventurers, their actions, and their world. From nuclear destruction to utopia, governmental authority and social responsibility, it answers questions fans have had for years. 

Alan Moore's Watchmen is set in 1985 and chronicles the alternative history of the United States where the US edges dangerously closer to nuclear war with the Soviet Union. Within this world exists a group of crime busters, who don elaborate costumes to conceal their identity and fight crime. Moore uses the story as a means to reflect contemporary anxieties and to deconstruct the concept of “superhero.” Watchmen is widely considered to be Alan Moore’s masterpiece and the comic series that changed the genre forever.    

Watchmen and Philosophy is the latest in the popular Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture series, edited by William Irwin, the originator of the philosophy and pop culture book genre. This series answers some of life’s eternal philosophical questions through the pop culture lens of our most popular TV shows and movies, which includes Batman and Philosophy: The Dark Knight of the Soul and the recent House and Philosophy: Everybody Lies.

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