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What is Human?

The Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film that highlights the presence of genetically engineered organic robots referred to as replicates. Ridley Scott directed the film and made it a true reflection of science fiction. Movie stars embodied such characters as  Deckard, Gaff, Bryant, Roy, Zhora, Tyrell, Rachael, and Pris. Notably, the replicates in the film cannot be visually distinguished from adult human beings. The key characteristic of the replicates is that they have a fixed lifespan. The replicates are hidden in Los Angeles, and characters such as Rick Deckard take the initiative of hunting fake people down with the objective of retiring them. Identity plays a significant role in the determination of different characters in the film as replicates are hunted and put to rest. The film puts a significant emphasis on morality since it influences the decisions made by individuals.

This essay presents a philosophical analysis of the film Blade Runner based on personal identity and morality. More so, the essay discusses morality in relation to ethical theories in the determination of the principle features of human character.

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Philosophical Analysis of the Film

The film focuses on the presence of genetically engineered organic robots in Los Angeles in 2019. The replicates in the movie convincingly identify themselves as humans and come back to Earth in search of their maker. Brooker (2005) asserts that Deckard is a retired police officer who feels replicates are not humans and, therefore, they need to be retired immediately before they cause any harm to real people. The motion picture vitally captures the instances where replicates such as Zhora identify themselves as humans and want to lead lives similar to human beings. The movie also indicates the manner in which the replicates try to maneuver. Consequently, their life on Earth is similar to normal human beings, hence, replicates promote their identity. They come to Earth in large numbers ensuring they can be protected from any threat emanating from individuals such as Deckard, the blade runner. The movie represents the moral nature of Deckard as he retires all other replicates apart from Rachael whom he relates with intimately. His immoral and inconsistent approach to the retirement of replicates is represented by his choosy decisions in the retirement of replicates on Earth. He has intimate relations with Rachael, and promises not to retire her as he had done to other replicates such as Zhora. Bryant forces Deckard to retire Roy, Zhora, and Pris in the same way as he had dispatched with Leon who was also a replicate. This indicates lack of morality on the part of humans when it comes to dealing with other species.

Replicates are similar to humans in the sense they both develop an identity. Identity plays an instrumental role in the entire film, and both replicates and humans aim at establishing their individuality. Replicates come back to Los Angeles with the aim of establishing their identity and finding their maker. They also seek to identify themselves with their maker comparable to the way human beings identify themselves with the image of God. Moreover, people identify themselves as human beings and seek to distinguish themselves from replicates, which are engineered beings. Therefore, Deckard takes the role of a blade runner and decides to retire all the characters because he feels they do not fit in the human personality. As a result, he plans to retire replicates such as Leon to retain the human identity on Earth and ensure their uniqueness is not threatened.

On the other hand, replicates differ from human beings because they have a fixed lifespan and are supposed to operate in off-world. It is worth noting that replicates were engineered in such a manner that they are supposed to live merely for predetermined period. According to their maker Tyrell, they are only entitled to a four-year lifespan,. On the other hand, the life of human beings is not fixed and is highly dependent on the destiny of every individual. Additionally, human beings have the freedom to live on Earth and carry out their operations in a free manner. Replicates are only required to serve off-world colonies and their presence on Earth calls for their retirement. Thus, replicates, unlike human beings, are supposed to serve only off-world colonies and have a fixed life span. This relates to the scientific methods employed in their functioning and operations.

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Furthermore, replicates differ from humans because of their empathic response to questions. Notably, replicates take an empathic response to questions, hence ensuring they can answer such questions effectively. They try to establish a nexus between their programmed thoughts and the questions asked unlike human beings. People take a direct approach to questions because of their complex minds created by a supernatural being. This ensures they exhibit a superior approach to questions compared to the replicates within the movie. The different approaches taken by replicates and human beings lead to the derivation of different answers between them.

Hume’s radical skepticism theory asserts that cause and effect play a vital role enhancing personal identity among individuals. Personal identity requires genuine memories created by a supernatural being and not those engineered by human beings. Deckard has genuine memories and has the capability to categorize himself confidently as a human being. He can establish different characteristics relating to him basing on cause and effect within society. Deckard can also fully act according to the different cause and effects within society. For this reason he successfully promotes human identification. More so, his morals are guarded by the genuine memories that exist within him. This is because he is a natural being with the capability to sense anything in line with the radical skepticism theory. According to Brooker (2005), Rachael is a replicate made using complex engineering methods. For example, her consciousness was enhanced with false memories that help to express emotions. Deckard also informs Rachael that her memories are made up of implants from other people. Her counterfeit memories also make it difficult for her to realize she is a replicate, so Rachael constantly believes she is a human being. Therefore, her moralities are determined by the false memories existing within her.

Morality Relating to Ethical Theories

Morality refers to the differentiation of actions and decisions with the aim to define its good and bad sides. Moral principles are always put in place by society, hence ensuring all individuals follow these values and work in accordance with the required ideology. Ethical theories assert that individuals must be careful to act in the obligatory manner in order to be appreciated and accepted within society. This boosts acceptance and proper working with all individuals in society.

Deckard and Roy are similar in the sense that they both killed other individuals within the film. Deckard pursues all the replicates with the aim of ensuring they are retired. The murder of Zhora indicates his immoral nature. He does not take the plight of replicates into consideration despite the fact that they also wanted to get the opportunity to enjoy life in the same way he did. Roy also kills his maker Tyrell after being denied more life. He is unhappy with Tyrell after he realized he had denied him a chance of living more years similar to human beings.

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Roy differs from Deckard in that he has genuine feelings towards others, and he does not take actions without a substantial reason. For instance, Roy fights Deckard without applying his full strength and even saves him when he is about to fall from the rooftop. Deckard does not have a similar approach to matters and he makes quicker decisions when it comes to killing others. This indicates that Roy is more humane compared to Deckard. He is compassionate and still wants Deckard to live longer instead of terminating his life. Olafson (1995) agrees that this represents him as being more humane because he is reasonable in the actions he takes. He reasons carefully before the decision to take any particular set of actions in his lifetime.


In conclusion, the film Blade Runner highlights the life of human beings and technologically engineered replicates. It is a science fiction film that contains significant philosophical aspects that make it more interesting. Human beings are similar to replicates in the sense that they both yearn to develop an identity. Rachael, a replicate, tries to force her identity as a human being while Deckard, who also identified himself as a human being, works toward retiring replicates. On the other hand, replicates have a limited lifespan of four years while the destiny of human beings is unpredictable. Replicates are supposed to support colonies operating in the off-world space. Hume’s radical skepticism theory asserts that cause and effect play a vital role enhancing personal identity among individuals. Thus, people with genuine memories can easily identify themselves as beings unlike replicates such as Rachael. Replicates are mostly made up of false implants derived from human beings. According to Roy’s actions, he is more humane in comparison to Deckard. He is more reasonable as he calculates his steps before taking particular actions that may not be favorable. For instance, he saves Deckard when he is about to fall down from the rooftop.

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