The adult-oriented science-fiction cartoon series Rick and Morty, shown on Cartoon Network as part of its late-night Adult Swim feature, is famous for its nihilistic anti-hero Rick Sanchez. Rick is a character who rejects God, religion, and meaning, but who embraces science and technology.
This leads to a popular show that often presents a world view favourable to science and dismissive of spirituality. It is existentialism mashed up with absurdism with a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of dick jokes thrown in. Rick and Morty and Philosophy focuses on the philosophical underpinnings of the show.
The authors explain and develop ideas that are mentioned or illustrated in various episodes, so that fans can get really solid evidence for what they know already: this show is awesome and deep. Rick has access to technology that allows him to jump between dimensions or realities.
He brings his grandson, Morty, along with him on these adventures, often putting Morty in mortal danger. However, Rick’s attitude is that there are an infinite number of Mortys in the multiverse, so if his Morty dies, he can always replace his Morty with another Morty from a different dimension. One question that arises is, are these Mortys really identical to each other? And if one of them dies, can he really be replaced without loss?
Another character in the show is Jerry, the husband of Rick’s daughter. Jerry is a complete and total loser with no self-respect, desperate to get any kind of respect from others. Why is it so important that he has self-respect? How does his lack of self-respect affect those around him? In one adventure, Jerry finds himself in a position where he can save one of the greatest civil rights leaders in the universe whose heart is failing.
Jerry can save his life by donating his penis, which is the perfect organ to match the alien’s failing heart. Does Jerry have a moral obligation to do so? Recently, ethicists such as Peter Singer and Julian Savulescu have argued that people have a moral obligation to donate a kidney to people who need one. Why wouldn’t the same apply to Jerry’s penis? Is such a donation above and beyond a moral obligation, and consequently optional, or is it a basic moral obligation and therefore required, as noted ethicists like Singer and Savulescu suggest?
This volume also includes chapters that examine the experience of watching Rick and Morty. One writer argues that many of the Rick and Morty episodes induce within viewers a state of “Socratic aporia,” or confusion. Viewers are forced to reflect on their own moral beliefs about the world when characters do something that seems good but results in horrendous consequences.
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