Why unreal punishments in response to unreal crimes might actually be a really good thing

Ethics and Information Technology 11 (1):71-79 (2009)
In this article I explore ways to argue about punishment of personal representations in virtual reality. I will defend the idea that such punishing might sometimes be morally required. I offer four different lines of argument: one consequentialistic, one appealing to an idea of appropriateness, one using the notion of organic wholes, and one starting from a supposed inability to determine the limits of the extension of the moral agent. I conclude that all four approaches could, in some cases, justify punishing a virtual reality representation; an avatar. As a consequence of my conclusion, I suggest that our institutionalized criminal justice system must be broadened in scope and punitive measures, in order to cover the new and difficult cases arising in virtual reality.
Keywords Avatars  Ethics in virtual reality  Extended agents  Punishment  Retributive justice  Virtual reality
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DOI 10.1007/s10676-009-9182-1
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Marcus Schulzke (2010). Defending the Morality of Violent Video Games. Ethics and Information Technology 12 (2):127-138.
Jeff Dunn (2012). Virtual Worlds and Moral Evaluation. Ethics and Information Technology 14 (4):255-265.

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