David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (2):277-294 (2006)
With the exception of pornography, the morality of popular forms of entertainment has not been studied extensively by philosophers. The present paper aims to start discussion on the moral status of horror films, whose popularity and success has grown steadily since the 1970s. In particular, the author focuses on so-called “slasher” or “gorefest” films, where the narration revolves around the graphic and realistic depiction of a series of murders. The paper’s main thesis is that it is immoral to produce, distribute, and view films of this kind. The reasons are traced back to two facts: 1) living the moral life requires being disposed to react compassionately to the sight of human victimization, and 2) the most violent horror films either overwhelm the spectator or promote a detachment from violence that may interfere with the development and maintenance of the correct reactive attitudes to human victimization
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