(Note: Since I’m reading DADES on my Kindle, I lack the wonderful technology known as “page numbers”; instead I’ll list a chapter number followed by the approximate position)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was written in 1968, around the peak of the Vietnam war. It may initially appear to be somewhat of a stretch to say this novel is representative of the conflict, but when you take into account Philip K. Dick’s anti-war attitude , it’s not unfair to assume it in some way inspired his writing. Deckard could be seen as a man involved in the conflict and undergoing a realization of the pointless destruction of the war.
The symbolism became apparent to me during the death of Luba Luft. Until then, bounty hunters gauge their targets by testing their empathy levels, which is the most accurate pre-mortem method of determining whether or not an entity is human. With Luft, however, he encounters a problem—she responds to the questions in an unexpected, emotional way. Deckard expects straightforward answers as that’s what androids would typically expect a human to do, yet she seems to genuinely believe he’s targeting her as an object to feed his perversions. She behaves unexpectedly and humanly. She acts like more than a faceless enemy, and it’s possible she is.
It’s here that Deckard faces the conflict of being a soldier assigned a duty to kill indiscriminately and being an empathetic human. While Deckard’s testing method relies on proving the lack of empathy in androids, he realizes it’s not necessarily a trait innate to humans. (Chapter 12, 85%). While Deckard didn’t have much chance to formally test Luba, and Resch officially tested as human, his gut feeling told him the opposite. Resch had no reservations in killing Luba because he saw it as nothing more than a job, while Deckard had allowed himself to establish a bond with the android, taking note of her very human appreciation of art and her voice that was more alive and beautiful than any human’s.
Phil Resch can be seen as a soldier joining the war for the excitement of taking down a supposed enemy. Resch has no qualms with the idea of using an android for sex (Chapter 12, 95%) and killing them, much akin to the rampant rape and forced prostitution that resulted from our involvement in Southeast Asia. Many soldiers would use these women for their services without questioning the morality of it, and at the same time viewed every single one of them as an enemy. Deckard, of course, is starting to feel guilty about his job as an executioner. He allowed himself to become acquainted with two androids and realized he was goaded into a sham war. These androids are presented as murderers of humans, but they’re only trying to make a living just as he is. Aside from Polokov, he hadn’t had a violent encounter with the androids; they had a more human respect for each other than Resch had for them. The androids even value their own lives, not wanting to be put out of service; Resch, however, almost seemed to accept his death if he’d tested positive for being an android (Chapter 12, 60%). Deckard is disappointed to realize he’s of the same kind as Resch; emotionally, he had more in common with Luba and Garland and they’d presumably hurt nobody since coming to earth, while Resch had destroyed two of them in one day.
In a manner similar to how Americans grew to abhor the conflict in Vietnam, Deckard is growing to detest those who goad him into killing. With the small amount of time he’d put into getting to know Rachael Rosen, Luba Luft, and Garland, nothing about them struck him as wrong aside from their failing of the Voight-Kampff test. Additionally, there’s a major drawback to the test: it assumes that all humans are followers of Mercerism. It only tests for their conditioned disgust of animal products, not necessarily their level of empathy for those around them. It can be seen as quite problematic how Phil Resch cares more for his squirrel than a lifeform that looks just like his own species and possesses the same level of intelligence and emotion. Deckard is coming to realize that people aren’t evil for being different physically, but mentally. He loathes that his job is to protect and serve people like Resch while pointlessly killing innocents like Luba Luft.
If you’re to assume the theory that Rick Deckard is in fact an android (which is what the official conclusion in Blade Runner is, according to Ridley Scott), then this shows that androids do in fact exhibit empathy for each other. If you assume Deckard is a human, then we can conclude that being born human is not enough to make us act human.
 Liukkonen, Petri. "Philip K. Dick." Philip K. Dick., 2008,