PC 475: The Dauphin’s Metaphysics


by Eric Schwitzgebel

read by Tatiana Grey

First published in Unlikely Story

Rated PG-13.

“— which suggests possible applications, if the cobbler is much younger. Don’t you think, Miss Professor?”

The Dauphin sat twelve rows back — teenage heir apparent to the throne, playing at Academy student — smug smile, a ring of vacant seats around him, his speech casually slurred, ostentatiously humble with plain quill and standard-issue student gown (expensively pressed).

I intended my gaze to crucify him. Softness to students is a graybeard luxury; a young woman can only be hard. All the more so, I was sure, in this particular case. I nursed silence to the edge of discomfort, coiling the spring. “It is a thought experiment that depends on immaterial souls transferred by miracle,” I said. “There can be no practical applications.”

I paused again, as if gathering my thoughts. “Or do you perhaps mistake yourself for God?”

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Picture of Author Eric SchwitzgebelEric Schwitzgebel is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, and a cooperating faculty member in UCR’s program for Speculative Fiction and Cultures of Science. (Yes, you can get a PhD in Speculative Fiction at UC Riverside.) His short fiction has appeared in F&SF, Clarkesworld, Nature, The Dark, and elsewhere. He has published bunches of academic articles and op-eds on what it means to believe something; on people’s failure to understand their own character and experiences; on robot rights, group minds, and A.I. consciousness; on ancient Chinese philosophy; on whether we might all be living in a giant computer simulation; and on the mediocre moral behavior of professional ethicists. He blogs about all this stuff and more at The Splintered Mind.

Picture of Narrator Tatiana GreyTatiana Grey is a critically acclaimed actress of stage, screen, and the audio booth. She has been nominated for dozens of fancy awards but hasn’t won a single damned thing. She does, however have a feature film hitting the festival circuit called Serious Laundry. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. See more about Tatiana at www.tatianagrey.com.