The incorrigible social meaning of video game imagery

Ethics and Information Technology 13 (4):303-312 (2010)
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Abstract

In this paper, I consider a particular amoralist challenge against those who would morally criticize our single-player video play, viz., “come on, it’s only a game!” The amoralist challenge with which I engage gains strength from two facts: the activities to which the amoralist lays claim are only those that do not involve interactions with other rational or sentient creatures, and the amoralist concedes that there may be extrinsic, consequentialist considerations that support legitimate moral criticisms. I argue that the amoralist is mistaken and that there are non-consequentialist resources for morally evaluating our single-player game play. On my view, some video games contain details that anyone who has a proper understanding of and is properly sensitive to features of a shared moral reality will see as having an incorrigible social meaning that targets groups of individuals, e.g., women and minorities. I offer arguments to support the claim that there are such incorrigible social meanings and that they constrain the imaginative world so that challenges like “it’s only a game” lose their credibility. I also argue that our responses to such meanings bear on evaluations of our character, and in light of this fact video game designers have a duty to understand and work against the meanings of such imagery

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Stephanie Patridge
Otterbein College

Citations of this work

Cultural appropriation and the intimacy of groups.C. Thi Nguyen & Matthew Strohl - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (4):981-1002.
Resisting the Gamer’s Dilemma.Thomas Montefiore & Paul Formosa - 2022 - Ethics and Information Technology 24 (3):1-13.
Robots, rape, and representation.Robert Sparrow - 2017 - International Journal of Social Robotics 9 (4):465-477.
Philosophy of games.C. Thi Nguyen - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (8):e12426.

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References found in this work

On Virtue Ethics.Rosalind Hursthouse - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The ethical criticism of art.Berys Gaut - 1998 - In Jerrold Levinson (ed.), Aesthetics and Ethics: Essays at the Intersection. Cambridge University Press. pp. 182--203.
Virtual child pornography: The eroticization of inequality.Neil Levy - 2002 - Ethics and Information Technology 4 (4):319-323.

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