Blade Runner, Consciousness, and Self-Understanding

When I used to teach philosophy and religious studies (an endowed chair, no less), we would spend a week or so on Blade Runner, consciousness and philosophical anthropology (what does it mean to be human?).

In the movie, Blade Runner, the lead character of Decker (played by Harrison Ford) has the job of tracking down and killing escaped murderous robots, known as replicants. They look like us, act like us, and seem to have desires just like us. In fact, these new models are barely indistinguishable from humans at all. They can only be identified through a special test, instruments, and series of questions. The first few generations of replicants could be found out after a few test questions but the latest replicants, those that Decker now is assigned to kill, are a bit different. Here he is learning about the replicants from their creator (Dr. Tyrell) as Tyrell’s assistant, Rachael, walks close-by around the office they are all occupying during their conversation:

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