To start, I think it's important to note that many zombie films/books do not subscribe to a purist moral model. There are often huge conflicts between the act of "killing" a zombie and the people
who perform it, despite the recognition by the characters that zombies have no such compunction. The problem with zombies is their origins: at their worst, they are/were our loved ones (mothers, fathers, children, best friends, wives, husbands, etc.); at their best, they are/were people who might have lived next door or that we didn't know at all, but former-people nonetheless. Hesitation is usually a narrative conflict in zombie stories, and most recently in The Walking Dead. One of the first characters we meet in The Walking Dead (the TV show) is a man (and his son) who is being followed by his zombie wife. We watch him (and his son) struggle with the prospect of "putting her down," and there is one particularly gutting scene where the man tries for several minutes to bring himself to shoot his wife in the head from a window. He recognizes that his wife is not "his wife" anymore. She is a zombie. She will eat him and his son without hesitation. But he also cannot let go of the past (i.e., who she used to be, the life they used to have, and so on). These are frequent themes in zombie stories, but ones that I think are relevant to the problem of personhood.
|Not as good as I would have liked...|
Other questions should be asked at this point, but I'll leave them unanswered at the end of this post for now. Feel free to tackle them in the comments (or what I've written above):
Is mass "killing" zombies considered genocide? Why or why not? Is it possible to change the framework of human morality (i.e., to permanently cope) so that zombie "killing" is no different than shooting deer for hunters? How would we manage this? Is it desirable, even in a post-zombie-apocalypse world?
Note: You might want to check out The Reapers Are the Angels by Alden Bell, which looks at morality in a post-zombie-apocalypse world in a very unique way. I reviewed the novel here and interviewed Mr. Bell here.