Popular Culture and Philosophy

A blog for contributors and editors by Series Editor, George A. Reisch

The Americans and Philosophy, CFA

Posted on | October 31, 2016

Call for Abstracts

The Americans and Philosophy
Edited by Robert Arp

From Wikipedia: “Set in the early 1980s during the Cold War, The Americans is the story of Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, two Soviet KGB officers posing as an American married couple living in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., with their unsuspecting children and their neighbor, Stan Beeman, an FBI agent working in counterintelligence… The fourth season premiered on March 16, 2016. On May 25, 2016, FX set an end-date for the series by renewing it for a fifth and sixth season. The 13-episode fifth season will air in 2017, followed by a 10-episode sixth and final season in 2018…”

– Submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to: robertarp320@gmail.com

– Abstracts due: Friday, November 11, 2016, but you can send them in sooner

– Notification of accepted abstracts: Friday, November 18, 2016

– First drafts of papers due: January 15, 2017
– 3,000 to 3,500-word philosophy papers are written in a conversational style for a lay audience
– Papers must frequently refer to ideas, arguments, characters, events, and circumstances, in The Americans

Any relevant topic considered, but here are some possibilities to prompt your thinking:

– Prisoner’s Dilemma-type situations found on the show

– Rational choice matrices and nuclear armaments

– The nature of socialism vs the nature of capitalism

– Are governments justified in using deception for the greater good of their societies?

– Is the Cold War actually a good thing for the stability of the world?

– Comparisons and contrasts between the USSR and today’s Russia

– A serious diagnosis of Clavell’s 1981 short story, “The Children’s Story”

– Duties to our own moral principles vs. duties to our government

– Duties to our religious principles vs. duties to our government

– On the blameworthiness of being complicit

– The definition and nature of ‘spy’

– The value and morality of torture to gain information

– Propaganda techniques and critical thinking

– Typical fallacies utilized in propaganda and messaging campaigns

– Totalitarian regimes vs. republics

– The nature of information and how it is used as a piece of power

– Defending your family: does an eye for an eye trump the legal process that “let the bastard walk”?

– The nature of blackmail and the question of whether it is every justified in being utilized

– The principle of double effect and the possibility of a just war

– Kantian reasons to allow oneself to be used or objectified

– On the minor character, Nick’s, claim: “Without a higher power, we’re no better than wild dogs”

– Discerning true statements from false statements when in a relationship of trust with a spy

– Various conceptions of evil in The Americans stories

– Feminism and Elizabeth as the atypical woman

– “Manchurian Candidate” kinds of control and whether one is justified in killing an innocent person being used as a tool of harm

– Existentialist themes in The Americans

– Is Philip, Elizabeth, or any spy really free to quit being a spy?

– Should the government ever have any secrets that it keeps from its citizens?

– Lying vs. not revealing the facts

– The moral limits of experimentation using humans

– Characters that exhibit a Kantian-based deontology, a Millian-based utilitarianism, and/or an Aristotelian-based virtue ethics

– What happens when we DENY EVERYTHING?

Submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to: robertarp320@gmail.com

The Americans and Philosophy will be a book in Open Court Publishing Company’s Popular Culture and Philosophy Series: http://www.opencourtbooks.com/categories/pcp.htm. Submit ideas for possible future PCP books to the series editor, George A. Reisch, at pcpideas@gmail.com.

Thanks for your consideration.



Comments are closed.


Since its inception in 2000, Open Court's Popular Culture and Philosophy® series has brought high-quality philosophy to general readers by critically exploring the meanings, concepts, and puzzles within television shows, movies, music and other icons of popular culture.