Robert Arp, Ph.D.

Robert Arp's Website

Philosophy and Pop Culture


  • In April of 2010, I was Plenary Speaker for Eastern Washington University's First Annual Student Philosophy Conference: "Pop Culture and Philosophy." What a great experience!
  • In April of 2013, I was supposed to be Plenary Speaker for Georgia Southern University's Undergraduate Philosophy Conference: "Pop Culture and Philosophy." However, I had a stomach virus and spent that time in the hospital recovering.


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The Philosophy and Popular Culture genre was started by Bill Irwin, and I agree with him that:


  • The genre is one important and successful way to bring philosophy to non-philosophers, and vice versa. The genre even works for high-school-aged students.
  • The genre is an effective teaching tool (what student hasn't seen several episodes of South Park, for example?).
  • The writing in this genre isn't meant to be published in The Journal of Philosophy, The Philosophical Review, or Mind (three of the best, scholarly journals in philosophy).
  • You should read Bill's defense of the genre: Fancy Taking a Pop? and Writing for the Reader: A Defense of PPC Books.
  • Also read Massimo Pigliucci and Leonard Finkelman's piece titled The Value of Public Philosophy to Philosophers.


As Editor:


Philosophy and Pop Culture:

  • South Park and Philosophy, Wiley-Blackwell, 2006. Available here. Wikipedia site here.
  • The Ultimate South Park and Philosophy, W-B, with Kevin Decker, 2013. Here.
  • Batman and Philosophy, W-B, with Mark White, 2008. Here.
  • The Philosophy of Ang Lee, UPK, with McRae and Adam Barkman, 2013. Here.
  • The Philosophy of J.J. Abrams, UPK, with Patricia Brace, 2014. Here.
  • Breaking Bad and Philosophy, Open Court, with David Koepsell, 2013. Here.
  • Tattoos and Philosophy: I Ink, Therefore I Am, W-B, 2013. Here.
  • Psych and Philosophy, OC, 2013. Here.
  • The Good Wife and Philosophy, OC, with Kim Baltzer-Jaray, 2013. Here.
  • The Devil and Philosophy, OC, 2014. Here.
  • Homeland and Philosophy, OC, 2014. Here.
  • Justified and Philosophy, OC, 2014. Here.
  • It’s Always Sunny and Philosophy, OC, with Roger Hunt. 2015. Here.
  • Downton Abbey and Philosophy, OC, with Adam Barkman, 2015. Here.
  • Game of Thrones and Philosophy, OC, with Eric Silverman, 2016. Here.
  • The X-Files and Philosophy: THE TRUTH IS IN HERE, OC, 2017. Here.
  • Hamilton and Philosophy, OC, with Aaron Rabinowitz, 2017. Here.
  • Perry Mason and Philosophy, OC, with Heather Rivera, 2017.
  • The Americans and Philosophy, OC, with Kevin Guilfoy, 2017.


As Contributor:


  • “The Chewbacca Defense: A South Park Logic Lesson,” in South Park and Philosophy,Wiley-Blackwell (2006) 40-53. Reprinted in: Introducing Philosophy Through Pop Culture: From Socrates to South Park, Hume to House, William Irwin and David Kyle Johnson (eds.), W-B, 2010, 14-24.
  • “Moral Standoffs: Objectification in Lost,” with P. Brace, Lost and Philosophy: W-B, 2008, 26-38.
  • “The Ethics of Objectification and the Search for Redemption in Lost,” with Patricia Brace, Ultimate Lost and Philosophy: W-B, 2010, 241-252.
  • “For L’Amour: Love and Friendship in The Office,” with Jamie Carlin Watson, The Office and Philosophy: W-B, 2008, 221-233.
  • “And They Have a Plan: Cylons as Persons,” with Tracy Mahaffey, Battlestar Gallactica and Philosophy: W-B, 2008, 55-63.
  • 24 and the Ethics of Objectification,” with John Carpenter, 24 and Philosophy: W-B, 2008, 181-194.
  • “Tracy Jordan and True, Justified Beliefs,” 30 Rock and Philosophy: W-B, 2008, 186-194.
  • “I Give Them What They Want—Either an Orphan or an Abortion: The Cider House Rulesand the Issue of Abortion,” in Bioethics at the Movies, Sandra Shapshay (ed.), Johns Hopkins, 2009, 15-31.
  • “Believer, Deceiver: Perception and Reality in Metallica,” Metallica and Philosophy: W-B, 2007, 163-172.
  • “Thinkin’ is Freakin’ Sweet: Family Guy and Fallacies,” Family Guy and Philosophy: W-B, 2007, 139-148.
  • “All My Loving: Paul McCartney’s Philosophy of Love,” The Beatles and Philosophy: OC, 2006, 37-46.
  • “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: Vampires and the Hedonistic Paradox,” The Undead and Philosophy: OC, 2006, 143-154.
  • “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t: Vampires and the Hedonistic Paradox,” Reprinted in: Zombies, Vampires, and Philosophy: OC, 2009, 143-154.
  • “That Fatal Kiss: Bond, Ethics, and the Objectification of Women,” with Kevin Decker, James Bond and Philosophy: OC, 2006, 201-214.
  • “If Droids Could Think… Droids as Slaves and Persons,” Star Wars and Philosophy: OC, 2005, 120-131.
  • “Mind Your Ps and Qs: Power, Pleasure, and the Q Continuum,” Star Trek and Philosophy: OC, 2008, 59-68.
  • “The Many Ways to Skin a Cat,” What Philosophy Can Tell You about Your Cat: OC, 2008, 157-170.
  • Legend and Logic: Critical Thinking in the Real and Gaming Worlds,” with Dennis Millarker,The Legend of Zelda and Philosophy: OC, 2008, 29-43.
  • “Morally Responsible Machines,” Transformers and Philosophy: OC, 2009, 127-138.
  • “Robots in Love?” with Jamie Carlin Watson, Transformers and Philosophy: OC, 2009, 139-152.
  • “Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis: The Ambiguously Gay Duo," Watchmen and Philosophy: W-B, 2009, 185-196.
  • “Whiskey, Whisky, Wild Living, and the Hedonistic Paradox,” Whiskey and Philosophy: W-B, 2009, 109-122.
  • “Objectification of Conscious Life Forms in Final Fantasy,” with Sarah Fisk, Final Fantasy and Philosophy: W-B, 2009, 72-86.
  • “Coming Out of the Coffin and Coming Out of the Closet,” with Patricia Brace, True Blood and Philosophy: W-B, 2009, 93-108.
  • “V is for Villain,” Supervillains and Philosophy: OC, 2009, 43-52.
  • “Knowledge, Perception, and Reality: Jello Mistaken for Stones,” Alice in Wonderland and Philosophy: W-B, 2009, 125-136.
  • “Cloverfield and Terrorism,” with Patricia Brace, The Philosophy of J.J. Abrams: University Press of Kentucky, 2014.
  • “People for the Ethical Treatment of Zombies (PETZ) as a Real Possibility,” with Jeff Hinzmann, The Walking Dead and Philosophy: OC, 2012.
  • “An Atheist and a Theist Discuss a Cross Tattoo and the Existence of God," Tattoos and Philosophy: I Ink, Therefore I Am: W-B, 2012.
  • “The Five Ps of My Love Life,” What Philosophy Can Tell You About Your Lover: OC, 2012.
  • “F You, You F-ing F,” The Onion and Philosophy: OC, 2012.
  • “Stop Stereotyping Sabbath,” Black Sabbath and Philosophy: W-B, 2012.
  • Jeopardy! Contestants are Monkeys,” Jeopardy! and Philosophy: OC, 2012.
  • “Peter's Peter Problem,” with Skyler King, The Good Wife and Philosophy: OC, 2013.
  • “Lying and Withholding the Truth in Homeland,” Homeland and Philosophy: OC, 2014.
  • “If the Devil Didn't Exist, It would be Necessary to Invent Him,” The Devil and Philosophy: OC, 2014.
  • “If a Tree Fort Falls in a Forest...” Adventure Time and Philosophy: OC, 2014.
  • “Dracula's Dilemma,” Dracula and Philosophy: OC, 2015.
  • “John Waters, Gaytheism, and Gay Theism,” John Waters and Philosophy: OC, 2016.
  • “Guns Don't Kill Colors - Colors Kill Colors,” Red Rising and Philosophy: OC, 2016.