Monday, May 5, 2014

Real Justice for Fake People

Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi novel, Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep?, deals with duality and replication. There are humans whose emotions are controlled via machines, and androids who aren’t aware of their “artificiality” because they are programmed with “false” memories. One example of duality in the novel is the fact that there are two halls of justice. One for the humans – the “real” hall of justice – and one for the androids.

The androids are trying to protect themselves just like the humans do. The hall on Mission street was designed as a police force for the androids. It is not malicious; it is simply to protect their identities. Do the androids in Dick’s text deserve justice even though they are not “real” people?

The androids’ hall of justice is literally like an android version of a hall of justice: it is mirrored after and simulates the human hall of justice perfectly. So perfectly, in fact, that the detective Phil Resch is not aware that he has been working for androids. Even our human protagonist, Rick Deckard, begins to question whether the Mission street hall is in fact the “real” hall of justice.

According to Jean Baudrillard, if something is in complete simulation of another thing – if it functions in the exact same way – then it becomes valid. The androids’ hall on Mission street is literally acting as a hall of justice – it benefits androids and provides them with protection – but it is still only simulating an “authentic” human hall of justice. How, then, can it be considered fake? If it is operating the way a hall of justice operates, then it is, in fact, a hall of justice. A real hall of justice creating real justice for fake people.

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