Theoretical Fantasy Moral Dilemmas (Vampires, Zombies & More)

The reason is that a body cannot move or be “used” without life. And life results from the fusion of body with said body’s human soul. Any old spirit won’t do.

Without the human soul, body won’t move. A spirit could manipulate a dead body, if you accept that they can move physical objects; but this would resemble zombification rather than anything like aliveness.

Almost every culture has a vampiric myth (as well as a shapeshifter myth) in its folklore, so who knows? (I have my own theory about why that is, but it doesn’t involve the supernatural.)

ISTM that these myths arise from our discomfort with the binary nature of human life versus death, the only area in human life where such a final contrast exists. So our ancestors imagined levels of being falling “between” them. YMMV.


Myths don’t derive from a binary anything. Some myths are inspired by dreams, the imaginations of people who are mentally disturbed, from misidentifications of rarely seen living creatures, or tall tales told by people who have a propensity toward imagining things. The other thing to remember is this, especially in the past, people might see something and simply not know what it was. If something bad happened in association with this creature, and you could make a convincing case to others, then people would avoid this creature or add “supernatural/evil” abilities to it.

There have been cases of Vamipirism reported and I personally spoke to someone who thought that drinking a small amount of human blood was OK. I don’t recall what his motivation was. The vampirism turned out to be a psychological disorder. There are reported to be cults that practice the drinking of blood.

As a science-fiction writer, robots cannot and will not ever acquire a soul. You would be having a relationship with a mechanical device with no motivations, goals or emotions except whatever’s been programmed into it. It would not fear death.


Some have referred to human flesh as “machines” made of DNA. Isn’t the only difference between human flesh and robots a re-arrangement of matter?

Couldn’t a machine gaining a soul just be a slower version of human conception? What if there was a mysterious device that crash landed on earth, that suddenly gave machines an apparent sense of sentience and morality, like the black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey gave to apes? Would you be so quick to judge?

Could we be sure the processes going on in machines is beyond what people thought of what they programmed, mere complicated data extensions of 0’s and 1’s?

I think that’s pretty much the way they were portrayed in most folkloric traditions, where there was a lot of mythic crossover with both ghouls and ghosts. Vampires were not seen as soulful, Byronic characters who sparkled in sunlight. Real vampires don’t sparkle. They were seen as dangerous, violent creatures of darkness that could not be mistaken for a human being and who often appeared to their victim still wrapped in their burial shroud.

It’s reasonable to presume that a body could be moved or used without a soul by a demon. We can make a frog’s leg twitch with a galvanic current. The sort of movement you describe is consistent with most culture’s depictions of vampires, which is more like a corporeal, malevolent ghost than anything in current vampire literature.

You could make the argument that a soul is still retained in a dead body that is under the control of a corpse, but that would give a power to demons that is not accounted for in our theology.

Further evidence of a demonic presence would be the vampire’s violent reaction to sacramentals such as the cross, holy water, the Eucharist (in Stoker), etc., as well as the stake that (in eastern cultures) reputedly must be made of the same type of wood as the original cross, which could not be accounted for if vampirism is seen as a purely biological process (unless mental delusion/patterning on folkloric patterns is given as an explanation, as in Richard Matheson).

Yes, well, if your worldview consists of that sort of thinking then we are nothing more than walking bags of mostly water and chemicals, and our perceptions and interactions with the world are strictly electrical impulses triggered by outside stimuli.

No one knows what the black monoliths are. Advanced machines? Apparently so. I don’t understand your tone at all. Real Black Monoliths don’t exist. Prior to 2001, there was a movie where alien beings from Mars captured specimens of human beings and altered them to be more intelligent, and returned them to earth.

The little sequence in 2001 with the apes clearly showed that the ape developed aggression and tool use by grabbing a bone and breaking other bones with it, followed by throwing it into the air, followed by a clumsy association with that event and the development of the Space Clipper. It is quite clear that in 2010, an outside intelligence has intervened with man, but it has no shape or body or defined location.

The novel 2061 was panned by most, even ardent fans. A few suggesting that someone else wrote it.

Yes, we can be sure that machines remain machines at all times. That there is no mystical power within them. Like Terminator (which is quickly becoming a reality), and Terminator 2. Machines are simply machines, no matter how complex.

A far more likely scenario for Terminator is this: the main machine did not become self-aware, it was sabotaged. A program was inserted into it that created “a decision” that it could never make. It was programmed to come to a conclusion that its saboteurs were well aware of: its orders to not kill human beings were erased, and in their place a command code was inserted to kill off most of humanity and to continue the process until a small group would take over the planet after returning the machine to their control, and further instructions. Any interrogation of the main machine would insert the story into the brain of each Terminator: it became self-aware at whatever time of day and “decided” to do something. Just like the Terminator in Terminator 2 was reprogrammed to protect John Connor.


This is the key premise to the dilemma, just apply it machines instead of apes.

What if some unknown force gave a machine an apparent sense of sentience & morality? If what happened is beyond our comprehension, if it protests against being dismantled, can we really say for certain it is just a soul-less thing?

I don’t want people trying to address the question to sidestep the original dilemma, by rendering the premise an impossibility…that’s cheating :stuck_out_tongue:

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