Dr Russell Blackford

Dr Russell Blackford

Conjoint Senior Lecturer

School of Humanities and Social Science

Career Summary

Biography

I am trained as a philosopher, literary critic, and legal scholar. I specialize in legal, moral, and political philosophy, and in philosophy of religion.

My most recent books are:

* 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009; co-edited with Udo Schuklenk).

* Freedom of Religion and the Secular State (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012).

* 50 Great Myths About Atheism (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013; co-authored with Udo Schuklenk).

* Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies (MIT Press, 2014).

Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014; co-edited with Damien Broderick).

* The Mystery of Moral Authority (Palgrave, 2016).

* Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress (Wiley-Blackwell, 2017; co-edited with Damien Broderick).

* Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics (Springer, 2017).

Forthcoming from Bloomsbury is The Tyranny of Opinion: Conformity and the Future of Liberalism.

I am a prolific, widely published essayist and commentator with interests including legal, moral, and political philosophy; philosophical bioethics; philosophy of religion; and debates involving visions of the human future.

I am a Fellow of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and Editor-in-Chief of its flagship peer-reviewed journal: The Journal of Evolution and Technology. In 2014, I was inducted as a Laureate of the International Academy of Humanism.

I'm a frequent contributor to Free Inquiry (where I have a regular op-ed column), The Philosophers' MagazineNew Philosopher, and The Conversation. In 2017 I won the AAP [Australasian Association of Philosophy] Media Prize for my contributions to public philosophy in Australia.

In the past, I have held senior public policy appointments and have practised law with a major commercial firm in Melbourne.

I have also had some success as a science fiction and fantasy author, including my fantasy story "The Sword of God" (which won both a Ditmar Award and Aurealis Award in 1997) and an original trilogy of novels (Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles) written for the Terminator franchise. I have won the William Atheling, Jr., Award for Criticism and Review (in the fantasy and science fiction field) on three occasions, including for my co-authored book Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction (Greenwood Press, 1999; co-authored with Van Ikin and Sean McMullen).


Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Monash University

Keywords

  • naturalism
  • philosophy of religion
  • bioethics
  • philosophy of law
  • political philosophy
  • moral philosophy
  • metaethics
  • freedom of speech
  • freedom of religion
  • secularism
  • future of humanity

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
220405 Religion and Society 33
220204 History and Philosophy of Law and Justice 34
220305 Ethical Theory 33
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Book (12 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Blackford RK, Science Fiction and the Moral Imagination: Visions, Minds, Ethics, Springer Nature, Cham, Switzerland, 204 (2017) [A1]
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-61685-8
2017 Blackford R, Introduction I: Philosophy and the Perils of Progress (2017)
DOI 10.1002/9781119210115.ch0
2017 Blackford R, Broderick D, Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress (2017)

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress diagnoses the state of philosophy as an academic discipli... [more]

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress diagnoses the state of philosophy as an academic discipline and calls it to account, inviting further reflection and dialogue on its cultural value and capacity for future evolution. Offers the most up-to-date treatment of the intellectual and cultural value of contemporary philosophy from a wide range of perspectives. Features contributions from distinguished philosophers such as Frank Jackson, Karen Green, Timothy Williamson, Jessica Wilson, and many others. Explores the ways philosophical investigations of logic, world, mind, and moral responsibility continue to shape the empirical and theoretical sciences. Considers the role of contemporary philosophy in political issues such as women's rights, the discrimination of minorities, and public health

DOI 10.1002/9781119210115
2017 Blackford R, Broderick D, Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress (2017)

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress diagnoses the state of philosophy as an academic discipli... [more]

© 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Philosophy's Future: The Problem of Philosophical Progress diagnoses the state of philosophy as an academic discipline and calls it to account, inviting further reflection and dialogue on its cultural value and capacity for future evolution. Offers the most up-to-date treatment of the intellectual and cultural value of contemporary philosophy from a wide range of perspectives. Features contributions from distinguished philosophers such as Frank Jackson, Karen Green, Timothy Williamson, Jessica Wilson, and many others. Explores the ways philosophical investigations of logic, world, mind, and moral responsibility continue to shape the empirical and theoretical sciences. Considers the role of contemporary philosophy in political issues such as women's rights, the discrimination of minorities, and public health

DOI 10.1002/9781119210115
2016 Blackford R, The mystery of moral authority, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 119 (2016) [A1]
Citations Scopus - 2
2014 Blackford R, Broderick D, Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds (2014) [A3]

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Intelligence Unbound explores the prospects, promises, and potential dangers of machine intelligence and uploaded minds i... [more]

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Intelligence Unbound explores the prospects, promises, and potential dangers of machine intelligence and uploaded minds in a collection of state-of-the-art essays from internationally recognized philosophers, AI researchers, science fiction authors, and theorists. ¿ Compelling and intellectually sophisticated exploration of the latest thinking on Artificial Intelligence and machine minds ¿ Features contributions from an international cast of philosophers, Artificial Intelligence researchers, science fiction authors, and more ¿ Offers current, diverse perspectives on machine intelligence and uploaded minds, emerging topics of tremendous interest ¿ Illuminates the nature and ethics of tomorrow's machine minds-and of the convergence of humans and machines-to consider the pros and cons of a variety of intriguing possibilities ¿ Considers classic philosophical puzzles as well as the latest topics debated by scholars ¿ Covers a wide range of viewpoints and arguments regarding the prospects of uploading and machine intelligence, including proponents and skeptics, pros and cons.

DOI 10.1002/9781118736302
Citations Scopus - 9
2014 Zohny H, Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies, WILEY, 5 (2014)
DOI 10.1111/japp.12070
2013 Blackford R, Shuklenk U, 50 Great Myths About Atheism, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 280 (2013) [A1]
2012 Blackford R, Freedom of Religion & the Secular State, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, MA, 209 (2012) [A1]
Citations Scopus - 6
2009 Blackford R, Schüklenk U, 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists (2009) [A3]

50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a collection of original essays drawn from an international group of prominent voices in the fields of academia, science, lite... [more]

50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a collection of original essays drawn from an international group of prominent voices in the fields of academia, science, literature, media and politics who offer carefully considered statements of why they are atheists. Features a truly international cast of contributors, ranging from public intellectuals such as Peter Singer, Susan Blackmore, and A.C. Grayling, novelists, such as Joe Haldeman, and heavyweight philosophers of religion, including Graham Oppy and Michael Tooley. Contributions range from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personal, even whimsical, accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives. Likely to have broad appeal given the current public fascination with religious issues and the reception of such books as The God Delusion and The End of Faith. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

DOI 10.1002/9781444307986
Citations Scopus - 4
2009 Blackford R, Schüklenk U, 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists (2009) [A3]

50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a collection of original essays drawn from an international group of prominent voices in the fields of academia, science, lite... [more]

50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists presents a collection of original essays drawn from an international group of prominent voices in the fields of academia, science, literature, media and politics who offer carefully considered statements of why they are atheists. Features a truly international cast of contributors, ranging from public intellectuals such as Peter Singer, Susan Blackmore, and A.C. Grayling, novelists, such as Joe Haldeman, and heavyweight philosophers of religion, including Graham Oppy and Michael Tooley. Contributions range from rigorous philosophical arguments to highly personal, even whimsical, accounts of how each of these notable thinkers have come to reject religion in their lives. Likely to have broad appeal given the current public fascination with religious issues and the reception of such books as The God Delusion and The End of Faith. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

DOI 10.1002/9781444307986
Citations Scopus - 4
1999 Blackford R, Ikin V, McMullen S, Strange Constellations A History of Australian Science Fiction, Greenwood Publishing Group, 247 (1999)
Show 9 more books

Chapter (22 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2017 Blackford RK, 'Philosophy and the Perils of Progress', Introduction: The Problem of Philosophical Progress, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, New Jersey 1-12 (2017) [B1]
2017 Blackford RK, 'The Sciences and Humanities in a Unity of Knowledge', Science Unlimited?: The Challenges of Scientism, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 11-29 (2017) [B1]
2017 Blackford RK, 'Nietzsche, the Ubermensch, and Transhumanism: Philosophical Reflections.', Nietzsche and Transhumanism: Precursor or Enemy?, Cambridge Scholars, Cambridge 191-204 (2017) [B1]
2017 Blackford RK, 'Philosophy and the Perils of Progress', Introduction: The Problem of Philosophical Progress, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, New Jersey 1-12 (2017) [B1]
2014 Blackford R, 'Introduction II: Bring on the Machines', Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds 11-25 (2014) [B1]

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. This introductory chapter provides an overview of the content discussed in the subsequent chapters of the book. Machine o... [more]

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. This introductory chapter provides an overview of the content discussed in the subsequent chapters of the book. Machine or artificial intelligence (AI), might well have the ability to understand, modify, and improve its own source code, carrying it by great leaps into domains of ability that unaided flesh can never hope to reach. AI uses engineered electronic or photonic neural nets operating a million times faster. Uploading need not imply a world of bloated grubs lying in the dark with their brains wired to spreadsheets and simulated worlds. The initial goal of uploaders would be to emulate and enhance the brain, and that requires rich connections to external reality. The artificial system is not merely simulating but actually emulating or replicating the relevant functioning of a human brain. The book shows enthusiasm about the prospects of machine intelligence and mind uploading, and expresses skepticism or concern.

DOI 10.1002/9781118736302.ch0b
2014 Blackford RK, 'Skepticism in an Age of Ideology', 13 Reasons to Doubt, Onus Books, Fareham, Hampshire 21-36 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'Religion and Politics', The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, Massachusetts 3195-3207 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, Blackford R, 'Living without God', Christianity Is Not Great, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York 462-484 (2014)
2013 Blackford R, 'The Great Transition: Ideas and Anxieties', The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future 421-429 (2013)

Transhumanism has an intellectual core. It makes large claims - large enough and clear enough to provoke anxieties. One core idea is of human beings in transition: this word provi... [more]

Transhumanism has an intellectual core. It makes large claims - large enough and clear enough to provoke anxieties. One core idea is of human beings in transition: this word provides the "trans" in "transhumanism," "transhumanist," and their cognates. In the past, technology has extended the human body, providing it with tools to act upon the world. Transhumanism adds one more core idea: that the Great Transition is beneficial, something to be welcomed. Prophecies of redesigned human bodies are not entirely new, and nor is the widespread disquiet that they evoke. Some anxieties relate to practical issues, timeframes, and possible abuses. There is no need for transhumanists to adopt any implausible or politically troublesome account of the relationship between evolution and morality. Some transhumanists may be naive about the ease with which the Great Transition will, or can, take place, and some may specify unworkable schemes. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

DOI 10.1002/9781118555927.ch38
2012 Patrick JW, 'Foreword', (2012)
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-08-097744-7.06001-4
Co-authors John Patrick
2011 Blackford RK, 'How science fiction represents technoscience', Exploring Science Fiction: Text and Pedagogy, SSS Publications, New Delhi 1-15 (2011)
2010 Blackford RK, 'Atheists for Freedom of Speech', The Australian Book of Atheism, Scribe Publications, Melbourne 299-312 (2010)
2009 Blackford R, 'Unbelievable!', 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists 5-9 (2009) [B1]
DOI 10.1002/9781444307986.ch1
2009 Blackford R, Schüklenk U, 'Introduction: Now More Important than Ever - Voices of Reason', 1-4 (2009)
DOI 10.1002/9781444307986.ch
Citations Scopus - 1
2008 Blackford RK, 'Embracing the Unknown Future: In Defence of New Technology', Human Futures: Art in an Age of Uncertainty, University of Liverpool Press/FACT, Liverpool, UK 24-35 (2008)
2008 Blackford RK, 'Science Fiction', Books and Beyond: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of New American Reading, Greenwood Press, Westport, Conn. 815-833 (2008)
2007 Blackford RK, 'Australian Science Fiction', A Companion to Australian Literature Since 1900, Camden House, Rochester, NY 375-386 (2007)
2007 Blackford R, 'Greg Egan', A Companion to Science Fiction 441-451 (2007)
DOI 10.1002/9780470997055.ch32
Citations Scopus - 1
2004 Blackford RK, 'Should We Fear Death? Epicurean and Modern Arguments', The Scientific Conquest of Death: Essays on Infinite Lifespans, LibrosEnRead, Buenos Aires 257-269 (2004)
2004 Blackford RK, 'Try the Blue Pill: What's Wrong with Life in a Simulation?', Jacking In to the Matrix Franchise: Cultural Reception and Interpretation, Continuum, New York 169-182 (2004)
2003 Blackford RK, 'Stranger than You Think: Arthur C. Clarke's Profiles of the Future', Prefiguring Cyberculture: An Intellectual History, MIT Press, Boston 252-263 (2003)
2001 Blackford RK, 'Future Problematic: Reflections on The City and the Stars', Earth is But a Star: Excursions through Science Fiction to the Far Future, UWA Press, Perth 35-46 (2001)
Show 19 more chapters

Journal article (66 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Blackford RK, 'Are Philosophical Questions Really Intractable?', The Philosophers' Magazine, 74-77 (2018)
2018 Blackford RK, 'A Step Closer to Human Cloning?', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 38 8-9 (2018)
2018 Blackford RK, 'John Stuart Mill and the Language of Freedom', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 38 22-23 (2018)
2017 Blackford RK, 'Keep Dissent Nonviolent', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 37 9-11 (2017)
2017 Blackford RK, 'The Problems of Philosophy', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 38 11-12 (2017)
2017 Blackford RK, 'Momentous Anniversaries', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 37 9-11 (2017)
2017 Blackford RK, 'Time and the Future', New Philosopher, 92-93 (2017)
2016 Blackford RK, 'Would you live in a simulation?', New Philosopher, 98-100 (2016)
2016 Blackford RK, 'Islamophobia or anti-Muslim prejudice?', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 36 (2016)
2016 Blackford RK, 'Suppress and Punish: The Dangerous Impulse to Shut Down Speech', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 36 8-44 (2016)
2016 Blackford R, 'Philosophy in an age of propaganda', TPM-THE PHILOSOPHERS MAGAZINE, 27-+ (2016)
DOI 10.5840/tpm20167215
2016 Blackford RK, 'Laws of nature: the world according to Hobbes', New Philosopher, 102-103 (2016)
2016 Blackford RK, 'Yes - Oh, Dear, Yes - Don't Ban the Burkini', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 37 8-9 (2016)
2015 Blackford RK, 'What if nothing is sacred? Politics and bioethics without sanctity', Australian Humanist, 10-13 (2015) [C2]
2015 Blackford RK, 'Time Travel: Welcome to the Future', New Philosopher, 108-109 (2015) [O1]
2015 Blackford RK, 'Angry Atheists: A Contemporary Myth', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 35 12-47 (2015) [C3]
2015 Blackford RK, 'An Odor of Sanctimony: Responses to the Charlie Hebdo Murders', Free Inquiry, 8-41 (2015) [C3]
2015 Blackford RK, 'The Not-At-All-Harsh Reality of Same-Sex Marriage', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 36 (2015) [C3]
2015 Blackford RK, 'Book review: Chris Abel¿s The Extended Self: Architecture, Memes and Minds', Journal of Evolution and Technology, 25 53-55 (2015) [C3]
2015 Blackford RK, 'Manure and Property Rights', New Philosopher, 98-99 (2015) [O1]
2015 Blackford RK, 'Talking about goodness (review of Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language, by Stephen Finlay)', The Philosophers' Magazine, 121-122 (2015) [C3]
DOI 10.0.22.208/tpm20156955
2015 Blackford RK, 'Atheism Rises (Review of Imagine There's No Heaven, by Mitchell Stephens)', The Philosophers Magazine Online, N/A-N/A (2015) [C3]
2014 Blackford RK, 'Surprisingly Sensitive - Civility and Freedom of Speech', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 35 11-43 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'Upstream, Downstream: Liberalism, Direct Harm, and Hate Speech', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 34 11-11 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'The Rushdie Affair - Lest We Forget', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 34 8-53 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'Masters and servants', New Philosopher, 52-55 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'Who will flourish in a brave new world?', New Philosopher, 72-75 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'Why not change your mind?', New Philosopher, 86-88 (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'Would you upload yourself?', New Philosopher, 66-68 (2014)
2013 Blackford RK, 'The Fascination of Faitheism', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 13-45 (2013)
2013 Blackford RK, 'Should We Abolish Morality?', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 33 9-42 (2013)
2013 Blackford RK, 'Our inner life', New Philosopher, 84-87 (2013)
2013 Blackford RK, 'Freedom of Thought: The Media and Propaganda', New Philosopher, 60-63 (2013)
2013 Blackford R, 'A transhuman future', TPM-THE PHILOSOPHERS MAGAZINE, 92-97 (2013)
DOI 10.5840/tpm201362102
2012 Blackford R, 'William Gibson: A Literary Companion', SCIENCE-FICTION STUDIES, 39 133-135 (2012)
2012 Blackford RK, 'The State and the Marriage Business', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 12-48 (2012)
2012 Blackford RK, 'Who's Afraid of Scientism?', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 32 14-43 (2012)
2012 Blackford RK, 'Up with secularism!', Free inquiry (Buffalo, N.Y.), 32 9-43 (2012)
2012 Blackford R, 'The Ethical Project', TPM-THE PHILOSOPHERS MAGAZINE, 102-103 (2012)
DOI 10.1558/tpm56.24
2012 Blackford R, 'William Gibson overdrive (Book review)', Science-Fiction Studies, 39 133-135 (2012) [C3]
2011 Cragun RT, '50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION, 21 159-161 (2011)
DOI 10.1080/10508619.2011.557010
2011 Blackford RK, 'Enhancement Anxiety', Free Inquiry, 22-22 (2011)
2011 Blackford R, 'Robots and reality: A reply to Robert Sparrow', Ethics and Information Technology, 14 41-51 (2011) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 4Web of Science - 2
2010 Blackford RK, 'Voicing our disbelief', The Philosophers' Magazine, 81-86 (2010)
2010 Blackford R, 'Genetically engineered people: Autonomy and moral virtue', Politics and the Life Sciences, 29 82-84 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.2990/29_1_82
Citations Scopus - 3
2009 Blackford R, 'Moral pluralism versus the total view: Why Singer is wrong about radical life extension', Journal of Medical Ethics, 35 747-752 (2009)

Peter Singer has argued that we should not proceed with a hypothetical life-extension drug, based on a scenario in which developing the drug would fail to achieve the greatest sum... [more]

Peter Singer has argued that we should not proceed with a hypothetical life-extension drug, based on a scenario in which developing the drug would fail to achieve the greatest sum of happiness over time. However, this is the wrong test. If we ask, more simply, which policy would be more benevolent, we reach a different conclusion from Singer's: even given his (admittedly questionable) scenario, development of the drug should go ahead. Singer's rigorous utilitarian position pushes him in the direction of an implausible "total view" utilitarianism when it encounters the problems presented by certain thought experiments. A more pluralistic account of the nature of morality promises to solve these problems, and in this case it reaches a benevolent recommendation on life extension technology.

DOI 10.1136/jme.2009.030601
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2
2007 Blackford RK, 'Rendezvous with Utopia: Two Versions of the Future in the Rama Novels', Colloquy, 21-29 (2007)
2007 Blackford R, 'Differing vulnerabilities: The moral significance of lockean personhood', American Journal of Bioethics, 7 70-71 (2007)
DOI 10.1080/15265160601064348
Citations Scopus - 1
2007 Blackford R, 'Slippery slopes to slippery slopes: Therapeutic cloning and the criminal law', American Journal of Bioethics, 7 63-64 (2007)
DOI 10.1080/15265160601109812
2006 Blackford R, 'Stem cell research on other worlds, or why embryos do not have a right to life', Journal of Medical Ethics, 32 177-180 (2006)

Anxieties about the creation and destruction of human embryos for the purpose of scientific research on embryonic stem cells have given a new urgency to the question of whether em... [more]

Anxieties about the creation and destruction of human embryos for the purpose of scientific research on embryonic stem cells have given a new urgency to the question of whether embryos have moral rights. This article uses a thought experiment involving two possible worlds, somewhat removed from our own in the space of possibilities, to shed light on whether early embryos have such rights as a right not to be destroyed or discarded (a "right to life"). It is argued that early embryos do not have meaningful interests or any moral rights. Accordingly, claims about the moral rights of embryos do not justify restrictions on stem cell research.

DOI 10.1136/jme.2004.011346
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 1
2006 Blackford R, 'Sinning against nature: The theory of background conditions', Journal of Medical Ethics, 32 629-634 (2006)

Debates about the moral and political acceptability of particular sexual practices and new technologies often include appeals to a supposed imperative to follow nature. If nature ... [more]

Debates about the moral and political acceptability of particular sexual practices and new technologies often include appeals to a supposed imperative to follow nature. If nature is understood as the totality of all phenomena or as those things that are not artificial, there is little prospect of developing a successful argument to impugn interference with it or sinning against it. At the same time, there are serious difficulties with approaches that seek to identify "proper" human functioning. An alternative approach is to understand interference wit nature as acting in a manner that threatens basic background conditions to human choice. Arguably, the theory of background conditions helps explain much of the hostility to practices and technologies that allegedly sin against nature. The theory does not, however, entail that appeals to nature are relevant or rational. Such appeals should be subjected to sceptical scrutiny. Indeed, the theory suggests that arguments against practices and technologies that can be seen as contrary to nature sometimes exercise a psychological attraction that is disproportional to their actual cogency.

DOI 10.1136/jme.2005.015016
Citations Scopus - 9Web of Science - 5
2006 Blackford R, 'Dr. Frankenstein meets Lord Devlin: Genetic engineering and the principle of intangible harm', Monist, 89 526-547 (2006)
DOI 10.5840/monist20068946
Citations Scopus - 1
2005 Blackford R, 'Human cloning and 'posthuman' society.', Monash bioethics review, 24 10-26 (2005)

Since early 1997, when the creation of Dolly the sheep by somatic cell nuclear transfer was announced in Nature, numerous government reports, essays, articles and books have consi... [more]

Since early 1997, when the creation of Dolly the sheep by somatic cell nuclear transfer was announced in Nature, numerous government reports, essays, articles and books have considered the ethical problems and policy issues surrounding human reproductive cloning. In this article, I consider what response a modern liberal society should give to the prospect of human cloning, if it became safe and practical. Some opponents of human cloning have argued that permitting it would place us on a slippery slope to a repugnant future society, comparable to that portrayed in Aldous Huxley's novel, Brave New World. I conclude that, leaving aside concerns about safety, none of the psychological or social considerations discussed in this article provides an adequate policy justification for invoking the state's coercive powers to prevent human cloning.

DOI 10.1007/BF03351425
Citations Scopus - 3
2004 Blackford RK, 'Mutants, Cyborgs, AI & Androids', Meanjin, 63 14-21 (2004)
2003 Blackford RK, 'Sisyphus and the Meaning of Life', Quadrant, 54-57 (2003)
2003 Blackford RK, 'Who's Afraid of the Brave New World', Quadrant, 9-15 (2003)
2003 Blackford RK, 'Lawrence v. Texas: A Right to Personal Freedom', Quadrant, 34-41 (2003)
2002 Blackford RK, 'The Supposed Rights of the Fetus.', Quadrant, 11-17 (2002)
2001 Blackford RK, 'Free speech and hate speech', Quadrant, 10-17 (2001)
2001 Blackford R, 'Thinking about cloning: a reply to Judith Thomson.', Journal of law and medicine, 9 238-250 (2001)

Opponents of human cloning typically argue for the prohibition of therapeutic cloning and a permanent prohibition of reproductive cloning, even if a safe cloning technology should... [more]

Opponents of human cloning typically argue for the prohibition of therapeutic cloning and a permanent prohibition of reproductive cloning, even if a safe cloning technology should become available. In a recent article in this journal, "Legal and Ethical Problems of Human Cloning" (2000) 8 JLM 31, Judith Thomson develops an ethico-legal analysis that would justify prohibitions or restrictions on both therapeutic and reproductive cloning, irrespective of any safety issue. This article criticises Thomson's analysis in detail and suggests, in particular, that it relies upon an intellectually unacceptable understanding of personhood.

Citations Scopus - 2
2001 Blackford RK, 'Margaret Somerville and the Perils of Bioethics', Quadrant, 45-52-52 (2001)
2001 Blackford RK, 'Technological Meliorism and the Posthuman Condition: Arthur C. Clarke and the Ultimate Future of Intelligence', New York Review of Science Fiction, 1-12 (2001)
2000 Blackford RK, 'Stephen Jay Gould on Science and Religion', Quadrant, 8-14 (2000)
1999 Blackford RK, 'Unfair Dismissal Law and the Termination of Contracts for a Specified Period of Time', Australian Journal of Labour Law, 12 217-220 (1999)
1997 Blackford RK, 'Judicial power, Political Liberty and the Post-Industrial State', Australian Law Journal, 71 267-293 (1997)
1985 Blackford R, 'Physics and Fantasy: Scientific Mysticism, Kurt Vonnegut, and Gravity's Rainbow', The Journal of Popular Culture, 19 35-44 (1985)
DOI 10.1111/j.0022-3840.1985.1903_35.x
Citations Scopus - 1
Show 63 more journal articles

Review (21 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Blackford RK, 'America's Sense of Mission (review of The Rise and Fall of the Christian Myth by Burton L. Mack) (2018)
2017 Blackford RK, 'Review of Becoming Atheist: Humanism and the Secular West by Callum G. Brown (2017)
DOI 10.14296/RiH/2014/2136
2016 Blackford RK, 'Natural and Supernatural (Whatever They Are!). Review of The Blackwell Companion to Naturalism, ed. Kelly James Clark (2016)
2015 Blackford R, 'Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language', TPM-THE PHILOSOPHERS MAGAZINE (2015)
DOI 10.5840/tpm20156955
2014 Blackford RK, 'Book review: Zoltan Istvan's The Transhumanist Wager (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'The Faith of a Conservative (Review of The Soul of the World, by Roger Scruton) (2014)
2014 Blackford RK, 'Review of Mind, Brain, and Free Will by Richard Swinburne (2014)
2013 Blackford RK, 'Sorting Out Religion with Brian Leiter (Review of Why Tolerate Religion?, by Brian Leiter) (2013)
2013 Blackford RK, 'Book review: Mark Coeckelbergh¿s Human Being @ Risk: Enhancement, Technology, and the Evaluation of Vulnerability Transformations (2013)
2012 Blackford RK, 'The invention of ethics (review of The Ethical Project, by Philip Kitcher) (2012)
2012 Blackford R, 'The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age', TPM-THE PHILOSOPHERS MAGAZINE (2012)
DOI 10.5840/tpm201259132
2012 Blackford RK, 'Excessive tolerance? (Review of The New Religious Intolerance: Overcoming the Politics of Fear in an Anxious Age, by Martha Nussbaum) (2012)
2011 Blackford RK, 'Review of Humanity's End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement, by Nick Agar (2011)
2010 Blackford RK, 'Book review: Sam Harris¿ The Moral Landscape (2010)
2009 Blackford RK, 'Book review: Jerry A. Coyne¿s Why Evolution Is True (2009)
2007 Blackford RK, 'Review of The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins (2007)
2007 Blackford RK, 'Book Review: Michael J Sandel, The Case Against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering (2007)
2006 Blackford RK, 'Review of The Wisdom Paradox: How Your Mind Can Grow Stronger As Your Brain Grows Older by Elkhonon Goldberg. (2006)
2005 Blackford RK, 'Review of A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Daniel H. Pink. Cosmos # 5 (November 2005): 87. (2005)
2001 Blackford RK, 'Review of Histories of the Future: Studies in Fact, Fantasy and Science Fiction, ed. Alan Sandison and Robert Dingley. (2001)
1997 Blackford RK, 'Review of Theory and its Discontents by Damien Broderick (1997)
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Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2010 Blackford R, 'Is torturing babies really, really wrong?', Australasian Association of Philosophy Conference (AAP2010) Abstracts, Sydney, NSW (2010) [E3]

Creative Work (5 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2008 Blackford RK, Manannan's Children, Sydney (2008)
2004 Blackford RK, The Name of the Beast was Number, New York (2004)
2004 Blackford RK, Idol, Del Ray Beach, Florida (2004)
2003 Blackford RK, Smoke City, New York (2003)
2000 Blackford RK, The King with Three Daughters, New York (2000)
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Other (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Blackford RK, 'Why I still support Charlie Hebdo', Politics, Policy and the Chance of Change: The Conversation Yearbook 2015. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press (2015) [O1]
Blackford RK, 'Why the secular state has no moral mandate', [O1]
Blackford RK, 'The state, religion and the need for rational scrutiny', [O1]
Blackford RK, 'We are doing something right: Pinker and the decline of violence', [O1]
Blackford RK, 'The mechanics of moral evaluation', [O1]
Blackford RK, Schuklenk U, 'Stand up, stand up, against Jesus', [O1]
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Thesis / Dissertation (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2009 Blackford RK, Human Enhancement: The Challenge to Liberal Tolerance, Monash University (2009)
1983 Blackford RK, Absurdity to Archetype: The Return to Myth Considered in Novels by Kurt Vonnegut, John Barth, and Thomas Pynchon, University of Newcastle (1983)
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Dr Russell Blackford

Position

Conjoint Senior Lecturer
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts

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