Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a science fiction novel by American writer Philip K. Dick. First published in 1968, the book served as the primary basis for the 1982 film Blade Runner. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic near future, where Earth and its populations have been damaged greatly by nuclear war during World War Terminus. Most types of animals are endangered or extinct due to extreme radiation poisoning from the war. To own an animal is a sign of status, but what is emphasized more is the empathic emotions humans experience towards animals.

The main plot follows Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is faced with "retiring" six escaped Nexus-6 model androids, the latest and most advanced model, while a secondary plot follows John Isidore, a man of sub-par IQ who aids the fugitive androids. In connection with Deckard's mission, the novel explores the issue of what it is to be human. Unlike humans, the androids possess no sense of empathy.


701 Blade Runner (18pts)

  • Write all answers in your bound journal
  • Make it NEAT and in COMPLETE SENTENCES, and clearly number the questions you are answering.
  • Develop your thought, and be ready to share your answer in class.
  • -2pt if you do not title and date the entry
  • -1pt (per infraction) if you do not clearly number the questions for your responses
  1. A key puzzle raised by Blade Runner is whether we can definitively distinguish between real humans and artificially engineered replicants. Suppose that no test (either objective or subjectively introspective) could show this for sure. Would that mean that a given replicant was indeed fully human?
  2. One of the more dramatic philosophical points made in the movie is that we can’t trust our memories: they may have been implanted in us regardless of how true they seem. What is the main reason that we trust our memories as more or less accurate accounts of our past events?
  3. Rachael became convinced that she was a replicant when Deckard described some of her private childhood memories to her. What would it take for you to seriously question the truth of your memories and consider instead that they might implanted in you or the result of a drug or mental defect?
  4. The director’s cut version of the movie made an alteration to the original theatrically-released story line: at the close of the movie it seems clear that Rachael has a short replicant life-span, rather than a full human life-span. Assuming that she and Deckard safely escape, does this make the ending that much less happy?
  5. Another alteration in the director’s cut is that questions are raised about whether Deckard himself is a replicant. What is the main indication of this, and what sort of impact should this have on Deckard, particularly in view of his feelings about Rachael?
  6. A moral message of the movie is that it was wrong to enslave the replicants and use them as forced labor since they were so human-like in both appearance and thought process. What would need to be different about replicants in order for us to feel that it was OK to use them for labor?
  7. What moral dilemma did the replicant Roy encounter with Deckard at the end of the film? What was the symobolism? What was Roy's existential moment?
  8. Relate Roy's epihpany to Invictus by William Ernest Henley....

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.