What flics to rent?

If you want to stimulate your mind while watching movies, this list might be of help: Jason Brennan's list of movies with philosophical themes

Wow, i think almost all (i guess with the exception of american history x, and i will assume i just missed spotting fight club) of my favorites are on that list.

Thanks dogbert.


someone should tell that guy who made up the list that there were actually films made before 1995 and that countries outside of the US have made films too.

well, the Bergman movies were also mentioned.

good list imo. I love movies so do you have anything to ad Hakujin, please share?

I think what is really missing is Rashomon by Korusawa. The film is pure epistemology.

I gotta watch some of those movies.

Check out the book "Philosophy goes to the Movies." It's a good reader for beginners, and it cites HUNDREDS of movies and their relationship to different philosophical fields.


I just watched Chronicles of Riddick. Oh, how many totalitarian regime jokes did I make?

Great site, Dogbert, thank you!

good lord those movies suck. tom cruise? steven spielberg? gimme a break.

I just watched "Man on Fire" anyone have any thoughts on it?

That short paper on Minority report is good, but there are much larger problems too.

In the opening scene, the precogs have a premonition of a murder committed by actor Arye Gross (I don't remember if they named his character). Presumably:

Murder by AG ----causes-----} precogs have premonition at earlier time

However, because the precogs have the premonition, Murder by AG does not take place. Thus the precogs have had a premonition of an act which did NOT take place.

Thus we are in a timeline that looks like this:

precogs have premonition ..... murder does not occur

What, then, did the precogs have a premonition of, if it never happens/happened?

Are they seeing what "would have happened" in the nearest possible world in which their premonition did not create a chain of events to prevent the occurance of the murder? That's a pretty hefty stretch. How can one say what WOULD have happened without the intervention? After all, the many murders they saw NEVER happened.

Furthermore, what causes the premonitions, if the precogs are within a timeline in which those murders do not occur?

XXX -----causes---} premonition ---causes----} murder doesn't occur

What is XXX? Presumably, the cause of the premonition is the murder. But if the murder does not exist, then what is the cause?


" After all, the many murders they saw NEVER happened."

Sounds like proof that the system works to me ;) 100% success rate! Impressive.

It makes plenty of sense to me, TT, that in a universe in which free will exists, the future would be dramatically dynamic. Reading the future at one point in time and causing a block in the will that murders would dynamically impact the future.

Of course, since the future is dynamic, you still have no way to know if ANOTHER will may stop the murder in a different way, but why take that chance?

Luckily, since our universe is indeterministic (no free will, and no ability to fortell the future) we need not concern ourselves with such problems, since such premonitions can not exist else the paradox you present exists as well. In our universe you can not know, or change the future :)



Here's what I'm saying: no timeline with the precogs (the way they've structured it) is consistent.

Let's forget the movie for a second:

Let's say that in 2004 a time machine from the future appears. It came from 2010. Is it possible to have a timeline like this:

2004, time machine from 2010 appears. ----- 2010, no time machine launched backwards.

The answer is, well, no. It is inconsistent. Even if someone says "well, maybe they launched it back to 2010 from 2050, and then it landed in 2004" it would still have to have appeared in 2010.

Really, we are on the verge of a debate about hard and soft facts about the past. I think that the precogs must be some kind of hard facts. Frankly, I don't even think you could argue that they are soft facts about the past. They just seem to have premonitions based on non-events that never occurred or will occur. And it seems wrong to me to say that something that DID happen was caused by something that never did or will happen.


I actually haven't seen the movie, so it's all right :)

Looking at it as seeing into the future, or traveling there, the way i see it, there are two possible outcomes of future events.

  1. Dynamic (Indeterministic and/or Free Will)

  2. Static (Deterministic)

In the case of a dynamic future, if you had the ability to look ahead, it would not be the same every time you looked. Depending on how dynamic the future is (i suspect it wouldnt be radically different if you looked ahead, 50 years (for example) in our own universe) things may appear largely the same, but you still could not be sure that any particular event would occur. In this scenario (given a low level of dynamic temporal conditions) it would be up to law makers to decide how high risk a case could be.

In the case of a static future, even if you could look ahead and see future events, there wouldnt be a thing you could do to stop them. If you saw someone murder someone else, it will happen, even if it is CAUSED by you having a premonition, which was, in turn, caused by something else. Deterministic worlds are unchangeable.

In any event, i do not disagree that it is inconsistent since i havent seen the movie. ;) However, given a dynamic future, it seems possible to me that changes can be made going forward in time. This does not necessetate possible changes in the past that change the present though, since the two are different.

I actually addressed this point in my final paper last year on Kant's view in free will. His strategies at defining free will could (though bogus in my opinion) actually offer a solution to your problem.

I used two metaphors in my paper, and i'm trying to think of which one is better to support my point here... chain or trampoline? Tramps are more fun i guess ;)

Now, imagine a trampoline's surface as a 2D grid of time, the exact center of which is the present. Any time you act, you put pressure on the surface that cases changes at all other points, and more significant actions (greater pressure) change all other points more significantly. Let's say then, that you traveled into the past, such that the point on the trampoline you call "now" is in a different location on the surface. You act significantly enough to affect the "now" and return through time to it. So what happens?

Well first i need to explain that in my interpretation of Kant, the surface of the trampoline is unbreakable. There is an intimate connection between the time you traveled back to the time you generated change. Basically, you can only alter events that will not stop you from traveling back in time. No matter what damage you cause, that event is unbreakable and must happen.

Of course, this imposes severe limitations on his version of free will, and was one of my main arguments in opposition of his points. Kant thought his view was consistent, and i do not, but it may offer a temporary solution to your quandry! Or maybe not ;)



I agree with what you've written.

The problem is that the movie violates the rule you've made: "Basically, you can only alter events that will not stop you from traveling back in time." Absolutely. This is where the movie has serious problems (see it, btw. It's worth it, even if only in that it makes your friends have these conversations with you :-) )

In the movie, a future act causes a past premonition, and in response to the premonition, the future act is prevented. Thus the original cause NEVER happens.

This is akin to launching myself backwards in time and telling people to stop me from launching myself backwards in time. If they are successful, then this whole thing is inconsistent, isn't it?


I see what you are saying. The only thing that i'm not sure i understand/agree with is the point you make in your last post doesnt seem paradoxical to me in a temporally dynamic universe. Such a premonition might merely indicate the greatest likely future given the current state of the universe. Since free will acts to change the dynamic future, the premonition originates a series of events and willed actions will end up generating a NEW greatest likely future, and the premonition, and murder, will disapear. To me, this seems POSSIBLY different.

Of course, its hard for me to say since im not so sure that any of it even COULD be possible to begin with. How could anyone forsee future events in a random world? And how can you change these events without free will (which i do not believe that we possess)?

Either way i'll check it out :) Donnie Darko is one of my favorite movies and it features a future object coming back to the past to generate an alternate possible future. The only thing is the object is FROM the alternate future sent BACK by.... well if you haven't seen it i wont give it away, but the inconsistencies are thick.


Twin Peaks:fire walk with me