WTAMU hosting Great Books Series to examine ethics in ‘The Cold Equations’

CANYON, Texas (KFDA) – West Texas A&M University’s Great Books Series will examine the ethics in the sci-fi reading “The Cold Equations.”

A WTAMU press release said Dr. Patricia Tyrer, the university’s Jenny Lind Porter Professor of English, will lead the discussion of Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations” at 7:00 p.m. on June 14 via Zoom.

The series is free, meaning anyone who has or hasn’t read the book can attend the event, said Dr. Daniel Bloom, Great Books organizer and associate professor of philosophy.

The book was first published in the Astounding Magazine in 1954 and caused a stir, Tyrer said.

The book tells a story about a transport ship taking medicine to an outpost on a nearby planet, but the ship only has enough fuel to get to its destination. A young girl slips onto the ship, jeopardizing the mission because the ship won’t have enough fuel to reach the planet, Tyrer said.

“Basically, it’s the same philosophical pondering of ‘kill one to save many’ or ‘save the one with you to ultimately sacrifice the many,’” Tyrer said. “The story is created with good physics and bad engineering — there is no room for error. In most discussions of this piece, it’s been difficult to keep participants to accept the parameters of the story. I expect we’ll have a good discussion about the need for difficult decisions in time of crisis.”

WT professors and guest lecturers lead the monthly discussions.

The series began in 2011 and was in-person, but it turned to Zoom due to COVID-19. The event is expected to return to in-person in September.

To register for the book series event, email Tyrer at ptyrer@wtamu.edu.

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