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About Russell Blackford
My books include:
* STRANGE CONSTELLATIONS: A HISTORY OF AUSTRALIAN SCIENCE FICTION (Greenwood Press, 1999; co-authored with Van Ikin and Sean McMullen).
* 50 VOICES OF DISBELIEF: WHY WE ARE ATHEISTS (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009; co-edited with Udo Schuklenk).
* FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).
* 50 GREAT MYTHS ABOUT ATHEISM (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013; co-authored with Udo Schuklenk).
* HUMANITY ENHANCED: GENETIC CHOICE AND THE CHALLENGE FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES (MIT Press, 2014).
* INTELLIGENCE UNBOUND: THE FUTURE OF UPLOADED AND MACHINE MINDS (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014; co-edited with Damien Broderick).
* THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (Palgrave, 2016).
* PHILOSOPHY'S FUTURE: THE PROBLEM OF PHILOSOPHICAL PROGRESS (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017; co-edited with Damien Broderick).
* SCIENCE FICTION AND THE MORAL IMAGINATION: VISIONS, MINDS, ETHICS (Springer, 2017).
* THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (Bloomsbury, 2018).
I am a prolific essayist and commentator with interests including legal, moral, and political philosophy; philosophical bioethics; philosophy of religion; and debates involving visions of the human future.
I am a Fellow with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, a Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism, and Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology. I am a frequent contributor to Free Inquiry, The Philosophers' Magazine, New Philosopher, and The Conversation.
I have also had some success as a science fiction and fantasy author, including my fantasy story "The Sword of God" (which won both a Ditmar Award and Aurealis Award in 1997) and an original trilogy for the Terminator franchise: TERMINATOR 2: THE NEW JOHN CONNOR CHRONICLES.
I was born in Sydney, which is a city that I love, but I have lived in Melbourne (for 30 years) and Canberra (for just a few months). More recently, I"ve returned to Newcastle, NSW - north of Sydney - where I grew up. I have strong connections with all these places. I hold an honorary research position in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle.
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- Features a truly international cast of contributors, ranging from public intellectuals such as Peter Singer, Susan Blackmore, and A.C. Grayling, novelists, such as Joe Haldeman, and heavyweight philosophers of religion, including Graham Oppy and Michael Tooley
- Contributions range from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personal, even whimsical, accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives
- Likely to have broad appeal given the current public fascination with religious issues and the reception of such books as The God Delusion and The End of Faith
Intelligence Unbound explores the prospects, promises, and potential dangers of machine intelligence and uploaded minds in a collection of state-of-the-art essays from internationally recognized philosophers, AI researchers, science fiction authors, and theorists.
- Compelling and intellectually sophisticated exploration of the latest thinking on Artificial Intelligence and machine minds
- Features contributions from an international cast of philosophers, Artificial Intelligence researchers, science fiction authors, and more
- Offers current, diverse perspectives on machine intelligence and uploaded minds, emerging topics of tremendous interest
- Illuminates the nature and ethics of tomorrow’s machine minds—and of the convergence of humans and machines—to consider the pros and cons of a variety of intriguing possibilities
- Considers classic philosophical puzzles as well as the latest topics debated by scholars
- Covers a wide range of viewpoints and arguments regarding the prospects of uploading and machine intelligence, including proponents and skeptics, pros and cons
Philosophy’s Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress diagnoses the state of philosophy as an academic discipline and calls it to account, inviting further reflection and dialogue on its cultural value and capacity for future evolution.
- Offers the most up-to-date treatment of the intellectual and cultural value of contemporary philosophy from a wide range of perspectives
- Features contributions from distinguished philosophers such as Frank Jackson, Karen Green, Timothy Williamson, Jessica Wilson, and many others
- Explores the ways philosophical investigations of logic, world, mind, and moral responsibility continue to shape the empirical and theoretical sciences
- Considers the role of contemporary philosophy in political issues such as women’s rights, the discrimination of minorities, and public health
How can we oppose this, regaining freedom and our sense of ourselves as individuals? The Tyranny of Opinion identifies the problem, defines its character, and proposes strategies of resistance. Russell Blackford calls for an end to ideological purity policing and for recommitment to the foundational liberal values of individual liberty and spontaneity, free inquiry, diverse opinion, and honest debate.
"This is a seasoned, balanced analysis of a major issue in our thinking about the future, seen through the lens of science fiction, a central art of our time. Everyone from humanists to technologists should study these ideas and examples. Blackford's book is wise and savvy, and a delight to read as well."
Gregory Benford, author of Timescape.
- An accessible yet scholarly commentary on hot-button issues in the debate over religious belief
- Teaches critical thinking skills through detailed, rational argument
- Objectively considers each myth on its merits
- Includes a history of atheism and its advocates, an appendix detailing atheist organizations, and an extensive bibliography
- Explains the differences between atheism and related concepts such as agnosticism and naturalism
An argument that modern liberal democracies should tolerate human enhancement technologies, answering key objections by critics of these practices.
Emerging biotechnologies that manipulate human genetic material have drawn a chorus of objections from politicians, pundits, and scholars. In Humanity Enhanced, Russell Blackford eschews the heated rhetoric that surrounds genetic enhancement technologies to examine them in the context of liberal thought, discussing the public policy issues they raise from legal and political perspectives. Some see the possibility of genetic choice as challenging the values of liberal democracy. Blackford argues that the challenge is not, as commonly supposed, the urgent need for a strict regulatory action. Rather, the challenge is that fear of these technologies has created an atmosphere in which liberal tolerance itself is threatened.
Focusing on reproductive cloning, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of embryos, and genetic engineering, Blackford takes on objections to enhancement technologies (raised by Jürgen Habermas and others) based on such concerns as individual autonomy and distributive justice. He argues that some enhancements would be genuinely beneficial, and that it would be justified in some circumstances even to exert pressure on parents to undertake genetic modification of embryos. Blackford argues against draconian suppression of human enhancement, although he acknowledges that some specific and limited regulation may be required in the future. More generally, he argues, liberal democracies would demonstrate liberal values by tolerating and accepting the emerging technologies of genetic choice.
Focusing on the intersection of religion, law, and politics in contemporary liberal democracies, Blackford considers the concept of the secular state, revising and updating enlightenment views for the present day. Freedom of Religion and the Secular State offers a comprehensive analysis, with a global focus, of the subject of religious freedom from a legal as well as historical and philosophical viewpoint. It makes an original contribution to current debates about freedom of religion, and addresses a whole range of hot-button issues that involve the relationship between religion and the state, including the teaching of evolution in schools, what to do about the burqa, and so on.
Australia has long been thought of by Europeans as an exotic and mysterious land. During the nineteenth century, it was envisioned much as the moon and Mars are today: a distant and uncharted place with hidden possibilities for explorations and adventures. The continent captured the imagination of European writers in the 1800s, and with its settlement, Australia became the setting for tales of lost worlds and ancient civilizations. Australia has since developed a rich national literature, and perhaps because of its novelty and wilderness, it has inspired numerous science fiction writers. This book provides a critical survey of the history of Australian science fiction from its nineteenth century origins to the present.
The volume proceeds chronologically, with an introductory section on the origins of Australian science fiction before 1925. It then turns to the rise of traditional science fiction in Australia from 1926 to 1959, with discussions of such writers as James Morgan Walsh, Norma Hemming, and Wynne Whiteford. A section on the period from 1960 to 1974 examines the growing national recognition given to such Australian science fiction writers as David Rome and Jack Wodhams, while a section on science fiction between 1975 and 1984 reviews the rise of small presses and the growth of literary criticism of the genre in Australia. A final section addresses the maturation of Australian science fiction from 1985 to 1998 with attention to Aussiecon Two. Extensive bibliographic information concludes the volume.