Are we right to admire members of a criminal organization?

Are the Sons of Anarchy really anarchists?

How does their relationship to their bikes help to shape the Sons’ moral code?

Does membership in the MC tend to foster virtue or vice?

How do the club’s practices and moral code make it like a religion?

FX’s hit television series Sons of ...

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Sons of Anarchy and Philosophy: Brains Before Bullets

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Are we right to admire members of a criminal organization?

Are the Sons of Anarchy really anarchists?

How does their relationship to their bikes help to shape the Sons’ moral code?

Does membership in the MC tend to foster virtue or vice?

How do the club’s practices and moral code make it like a religion?

FX’s hit television series Sons of Anarchy draws viewers into the morally ambiguous world of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club, where standard societal conventions and authority are shunned and replaced with a moral framework based on the bonds of brotherhood, family, and community and where members frequently war with other outlaw groups and the federal government to protect their interests and those of their home base, the town of Charming, California. Featuring essays by philosophical fans of the show and drawing on the ideas of some of history’s greatest philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Marx, and Nietzsche, Sons of Anarchy and Philosophy digs deep into the moral and political aspects of life in the MC – the ethics of loyalty, honor, and revenge, individual and group identity, the morality of war and terrorism, political authority, and religion.

Essential reading for fans of the show, this book takes readers deeper into the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, the Teller-Morrow family, and the ethics that surround their lives and activities.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

With Sons of Anarchy and Philosophy, Blackwell's philosophy and pop culture series goes where no deep thinkers have gone before. Over six FX seasons, the popular crime drama serial has attracted much attention, but perhaps no scrutiny of the California outlaw motorcycle gang has been as provocative as that contained in this collection of essays. In several ways, that is not as surprising as it first seems: With its dominant issues of loyalty, duty, ethics, and war, Sons of Anarchy becomes a natural candidate for philosophical inquiry. Another surefire entry in this popular trade paperback original series.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118641668
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/21/2013
  • Series: Blackwell Philosophy and Pop Culture Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Sales rank: 144,578
  • File size: 915 KB

Meet the Author

George A. Dunn is a lecturer at the University of Indianapolis and Ningbo Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University, China, and a writer on pop culture and philosophy. He is an editor of The Hunger Games and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) and True Blood and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2010) and has contributed chapters to many other books in the Blackwell Philosophy & Pop Culture series, including books on Terminator, Iron Man, Battlestar Galactica, and Mad Men.

Jason T. Eberl is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. He is the editor of Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2008) and co-editor (with Kevin S. Decker) of Star Wars and Philosophy (2005) and Star Trek and Philosophy (2008). He has also written essays for similar volumes on Harry Potter, Metallica, Stanley Kubrick, The Hunger Games, Terminator, and Avatar.

William Irwin is Professor of Philosophy at King’s College. He originated the philosophy and popular culture genre of books as coeditor of the bestselling The Simpsons and Philosophy and has overseen recent titles including Superman and Philosophy, Black Sabbath and Philosophy, and Spider-Man and Philosophy.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: “Gotta Look This Life in the Eye” viii

Acknowledgments: Thanks to the Reaper Crew x

Part I “An Equal Mix of Might and Right”: Ethics at 92 mph 1

1 Virtue and Vice in the SAMCROpolis: Aristotle Views Sons of Anarchy 3
Jason T. Eberl

2 A Prospect’s Guide to Nietzsche 16
Tim Jung and Minerva Ahumada

3 Tig Needs an Escort Home: Is Loyalty a Virtue? 29
James Edwin Mahon

4 A Saint among the Sons: Aquinas on Murder and the Men of Mayhem 38
Randall M. Jensen

Part II “Off the Social Grid”: The Politics of Mayhem 51

5 SAMCRO versus the Leviathan: Laying Down the (Motor)Cycle of Violence 53
George A. Dunn

6 “The Rat Prince” and The Prince: The Machiavellian Politics of the MC 65
Timothy M. Dale and Joseph J. Foy

7 Chaos and Order: Anarchy in the MC 73
Bruno de Brito Serra

8 “Another Fun-Filled Day in the Six Counties”: The Real IRA—Terrorists or Freedom Fighters? 85
Philip Smolenski

9 SAMCRO Goes to War 94
Alex Leveringhaus

Part III “The Concept Was Pure, Simple, True”: Biker Identity and Meaning 105

10 My Skin, My Self: SAMCRO’s Ink and Personal Identity 107
Charlene Elsby

11 The Faith of Our Sons and the Tragic Quest 117
Kevin Corn

12 Once a Biker Slut, Always a Biker Slut: Narrative Identity in Charming 128
Minerva Ahumada and Tim Jung

13 SAMCRO and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 139
Massimiliano L. Cappuccio

Part IV “The Passion in His Heart and the Reason in His Mind”: Sex, Love, and Gender 151

14 Sometimes a Motorcycle Is Just a Motorcycle: Freud and Hamlet Come to Charming 153
Andrea Zanin

15 When a Charming Woman Speaks 165
Leslie A. Aarons

16 Mothers of Anarchy: Power, Control, and Care in the Feminine Sphere 175
Leigh C. Kolb

Part V “Each Savage Event Was a Catalyst for the Next”: The Historic and the Homeric 187

17 Sons of History: How SAMCRO Lost and Found Its Way 189
Peter S. Fosl

18 Anarchism and Authenticity, or Why SAMCRO Shouldn’t Fight History 201
Peter S. Fosl

19 Good Old Fashioned Mayhem 214
Greg Littmann

20 The Road Out of Mayhem 225
Greg Littmann

Contributors: Philosophers of Mayhem 237

List of Episodes: The Life (and Death?) of Sam Crow 243

Index 246

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