'Better Call Saul' anthology gets philosophical

Anthology gets philosophical with ‘Better Call Saul’

Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman and Rhea Seehorn as Kim Wexler in “Better Call Saul.” (Greg Lewis/AMC/Sony Pictures Television)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The world that Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould created with “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” is one to be studied.

This is why Joshua Heter and Brett Coppenger jumped at the chance to edit the book, “Better Call Saul and Philosophy.”

Not only are the two fans of the show, they are also professors in the academic world – Heter is an assistant professor of philosophy at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri and Coppenger is an associate professor of philosophy at Tuskegee University, in Tuskegee, Alabama.

The final season of the “Better Call Saul” concludes the complicated journey and transformation of its compromised hero, Jimmy McGill, played by Bob Odenkirk, into criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.

The second part of the final season begins to air at 8:30 p.m. Monday, July 11, on AMC.

Joshua Heter

Heter says the two were roommates and enjoy public philosophy.

The book is an anthology. Each chapter is written by a different philosopher about some interesting philosophical issue in the show.

Heter says there are questions such as “Do the characters in ‘Better Call Saul’ have a moral compass?”

Or “Do they care about ethics and if so, in what capacity?”

Heter says many more questions are asked within the 23 chapters.

“We get to think about some of those issues,” Heter says. “This is a piece of popular culture, so it’s easy to deep dive into the morals or thinking of each character. That’s the challenge.”

Heter began watching “Breaking Bad” when it began to stream on Netflix a few years ago.

“I was hooked at moment one,” he admits. “There are a lot of fans. New Mexicans have embraced the two series there and I think it’s phenomenal.”

The pair pitched the idea for the book about a year ago.

“I pitched it a couple times,” he says. “Then they announced when the final season would be dropping. We knew that the book had to come out during the final season and its airing. We sent out a call for submissions in May 2021.”

The book was released in May 2022.

“Better Call Saul and Philosophy” by Joshua Heter and Brett Coppenger

Heter says being one of the editors was an experience because there were moments of brainstorming that were fruitful and others that didn’t pan out.

“We have an entire chapter on Saul and how he spins the truth,” he says. “The chapter goes into how it’s different from lying.”

There’s also a chapter on paternalistic health care and what are the ethics of when someone could take action.

In a health care context “paternalism” occurs when a physician or other health care professional makes decisions for a patient without the explicit consent of the patient. The physician believes the decisions are in the patient’s best interests.

“We’ve all thought deeply about it,” he says. “It’s about seeing what different people do with it.”

Heter says the book is meant for fans of the show who also want to learn a little more about philosophy.

“We go into this is the way Mike (Ehrmantraut) or Jimmy (McGill) thinks,” he says. “Most people are going to use the book as a jumping off point and go deeper into each character. There are some choices that the characters make because they have to. Other choices reflect who they are. We wanted the book to be thought-provoking and not feel like homework at all.”

‘Better Call Saul’

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