Horror Films and the Argument from Reactive Attitudes

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (2):309-324 (2013)
Are horror films immoral? Gianluca Di Muzio argues that horror films of a certain kind are immoral because they undermine the reactive attitudes that are responsible for human agents being disposed to respond compassionately to instances of victimization. I begin with this argument as one instance of what I call the Argument from Reactive Attitudes (ARA), and I argue that Di Muzio’s attempt to identify what is morally suspect about horror films must be revised to provide the most persuasive interpretation of the ARA. I then argue that the ARA provides a compelling standard for evaluating the moral permissibility of creating and viewing horror films, yet I note that it is an exceedingly difficult practical task evaluating the risk that these films create for our reactive attitudes. My conclusion is that the ARA provides a useful way or orienting ourselves to the complicated details of evaluating the moral status of horror films.
Keywords Applied ethics  Horror films  Reactive attitudes
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DOI 10.1007/s10677-012-9338-7
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Rae Langton (1993). Speech Acts and Unspeakable Acts. Philosophy and Public Affairs 22 (4):293-330.

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