Kyle Johnson Discusses The Orville: What Science Fiction Does Best

For many fans, The Orville is the Star Trek they have been waiting for. Although some expected it to be like Spaceballs, it turned out to be more like M*A*S*H*. It involves comedy, yes. But it also features real and lovable characters, in interesting situations, and offers up biting social and philosophical commentary (what science fiction does best). Indeed, it does the latter like no other science fiction series since Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Click here to watch Professor Kyle Johnson offer a brief overview of the social commentary offered by The Orville in the first season. “About a Girl” deals with transgender issues. “If The Stars Should Appear” chastises humanity for ignoring climate change. “Krill” and “Mad Idolatry” offer criticism of religion. “Cupid’s Dagger” raises questions about sexual assault. And “Majority Rule” criticizes the “democratization of information” through social media, and even ridicules the idea of democracy itself. He treats each episode as a work of philosophy, clearly articulating and then briefly evaluating its argument.

Read on to learn more about Dr. Johnson.

David Kyle Johnson, Ph.D. is Professor of Philosophy at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oklahoma.

At Oklahoma, he won the coveted Kenneth Merrill Graduate Teaching Award. In 2011, the American Philosophical Association’s committee on public philosophy gave him an award for his ability to make philosophy accessible to the general public.

Professor Johnson regularly teaches classes on metaphysics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind, and logic, as well as courses on critical thinking and scientific reasoning. He has published papers on human freedom, the problem of natural evil, the multiverse, the existence of souls, and many related topics in such journals as Religious Studies, Sophia, Philo, Philosophy and Literature, and Think. He also maintains two blogs for Psychology Today.

Professor Johnson also publishes prolifically on the intersection of pop culture and philosophy. One of his books, Inception and Philosophy: Because It’s Never Just a Dream, inspired an authors@Google talk with more than half-a-million YouTube views. He also has written numerous articles that explore the relationship between philosophical questions and such pop cultural phenomena as The Hobbit, Doctor Who, Batman, South Park, Johnny Cash, Quentin Tarantino, and Christmas.