Montana State University
College of Letters & Science > Department of History and Philosophy > Philosophy Professor Publishes Book on Serial Killers

Serial Killers, Philosophy for Everyone

Serial Killer Book

MSU Philosophy Professor, Sara Waller, publishes new book on Serial Killers

Death has pursued philosophers across history, just as they have pursued it. Socrates (469-399 BCE) reassured his followers that doing philosophy is practicing death, and so the diligent phi-losopher will face death easily. Heidegger (1889-1976) described us as projecting ourselves for-ward toward death, and gave us the chilling re-minder that we all die alone; one's death is one's own. Existentialism is an entire school of philoso-phical thought motivated by the eventual death of all human beings.
Questions of death haunt ethical discussions focused on medical care, human rights, and legal punishments. We are all interested in death, for it threatens all of us. But death, for philosophers, has usually been approached as something that happens to us, not as something that killers do. We reflect on the act of dying far more than we reflect on killing – and there is little philosophy that meditates on murder as an activity that might be repeated, or even practiced with care. There are many ways to live and die, and many ways to kill. But there is a gap in the literature of murder; few have examined the killers themselves from a philosophical point of view. Until now. Here, then, is a philosophy book on practicing death from the perspective, not of dying, but of
inflicting death on others. These essays contem-plate those who hasten the death of others in a systematic, premeditated fashion: serial killers. The book includes sections on: the philosophi-cal musings of killers themselves (I think, there-fore I kill); ethics, evil and serial killing; the public infatuation with serial killers; the lack of empathy and the urge to kill; the cognitive sci-ence of serial killing; and the psycho-ology of serial killers.