Philosophers – welcome aboard the Starship Paradox, the fastest ship in the galaxy! Are you ready for adventure? Hold tight as Captain Artemis Perplexov navigates through the outer reaches of space, with the help of his trusty ship’s computer, Ubik. Their mission: to make contact with our long-lost brothers and sisters of earth, who colonised distant planets hundreds of years ago. Who knows how alien these other civilisations may have become? Fortunately the hapless Captain Perplexov has you – his Onboard Philosophers – near at hand, ready to face the unknown with wisdom, good judgement and an open mind.
Discover the people of Xeroxica, who love nothing more than lazing around their plasma pools, sipping iced zucchini juice under their twin suns. Meet their easygoing representative Dr Doppelganger, who explains the major breakthrough of Xeroxican culture: If Xeroxicans have lots of homework to do, they use their ‘iClone’ device to make another physical copy of themselves to get the work done, while they laze around the pool or go dancing Gangnam-style with their friends.
Discover the people of Juridia, who have an impressive record of law and order. Meet their cool-headed representative President Oraclon, who is proud to have created a safe society free from all crime and misbehaviour. She explains the revolutionary technology of the ‘Future Spy’, which sees into the future and stops bad behaviour before it actually happens, sentencing would-be offenders in the Court of Future Misbehaviour.
Discover the people of Virtulon, who enjoy the freedom of travelling anywhere at the drop of a hat. Meet their preoccupied representative Professor Simulo, who explains why Virtulonians spend their lives plugged into an ‘Experience Machine’. The machine simulates any reality they choose, giving them a sensory experience that is entirely believable, down to every detail of sight, sound, touch, taste and smell.
On his planetary visits, Captain Perplexov receives generous and tempting offers to bring the iClone, the Future Spy and the Experience Machine back to earth. These are not decisions to be taken lightly. Careful thought is needed before introducing such powerful technologies into our society. What are the risks? What are the benefits? Philosophers, you are well-versed in the art of deliberation. It is time for you to discuss the issues and offer your wise counsel…
Big Questions gets young philosophers thinking in a collaborative way about a raft of deep and engaging questions, while having fun in an imaginary universe of zero-gravity waterslide parks, ukelele strumming, Brussel sprout ice cream, and dragon appointments. Participants will flex their critical and creative thinking muscles, and learn perhaps the most important lesson of all: “Never judge philosophers by their height!”
Please contact us if you would like to use these films for educational purposes.
The Big Questions short films are written and directed by David Urbinder.
Additional material in the first film is by Peter Worley, from the story ‘The Copying Machine’ published in The Philosophy Shop (Peter Worley, ed.), a publication of The Philosophy Foundation.
Thanks also to Stefan Morrell for granting permission to use his artwork in the ‘Juridia’ scene.
Each of the three films introduces a philosophical thought experiment:
- The ‘iClone’ is inspired by Peter Worley’s story ‘The Copying Machine’, published in The Philosophy Shop.
- The ‘Future Spy’ is inspired by Peter Worley’s story ‘Nick of Time’ from The Philosophy Shop, based on Philip K. Dick’s story Minority Report.
- The ‘Experience Machine’ is inspired by Peter Worley’s talk The If Machine, based on Robert Nozick’s famous thought experiment The Experience Machine.