Barbarous Spectacle and General Massacre: A Defence of Gory Fictions

Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (4):511-527 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Many people suspect it is morally wrong to watch the graphically violent horror films colloquially known as gorefests. A prominent argument vindicating this suspicion is the Argument from Reactive Attitudes (ARA). The ARA holds that we have a duty to maintain a well-functioning moral psychology, and watching gorefests violates that duty by threatening damage to our appropriate reactive attitudes. But I argue that the ARA is probably unsound. Depictions of suffering and death in other genres typically do no damage our appropriate reactive attitudes, and until we locate a relevant difference between these depictions in gorefests and in other genres, we should assume that the depictions in gorefests do no damage. I consider and reject three candidate differences: in artistic merit, meaningfulness, and audience orientation. Until genre skeptics identify a relevant difference, we should accept the taste for gory fictions as we would any other morally innocuous variation in taste.

Similar books and articles

Democracy and the spectacle: On Rousseau’s homeopathic strategy.Chiara Bottici - 2015 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 41 (3):235-248.
Video Games as Self-Involving Interactive Fictions.Jon Robson & Aaron Meskin - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (2):165-177.
The Puzzle of Multiple Endings.Florian Cova & Amanda Garcia - 2015 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (2):105-114.
Fictions within fictions.Reina Hayaki - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 146 (3):379 - 398.
Video Games as Self‐Involving Interactive Fictions.Jon Robson & Aaron Meskin - 2012 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (2):165-177.
On Getting One's Retaliation in First.Suzanne Uniacke - 2007 - In Henry Shue & David Rodin (eds.), Preemption: Military Action and Moral Justification. Oxford University Press.
Success and the aftermath of surrender.Yuchun Kuo - 2014 - Journal of Global Ethics 10 (1):101-113.
Law’s Fictions, Legal Fictions and Copyright Law.Jane Cornwell & Burkhard Schafer - 2015 - In William Twining & Maksymilian Del Mar (eds.), Legal Fictions in Theory and Practice. Cham: Springer Verlag.
The Definition of Massacre.Joseph Betz - 2001 - Social Philosophy Today 17:9-19.
The Definition of Massacre.Joseph Betz - 2001 - Social Philosophy Today 17:9-19.
Science fictions: Comment on Godfrey-Smith.Arthur Fine - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 143 (1):117 - 125.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-11-30

Downloads
711 (#23,213)

6 months
149 (#23,096)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Ian Stoner
Saint Paul College

Citations of this work

Dealbreakers and the Work of Immoral Artists.Ian Stoner - 2023 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 9 (3):389-407.
It’s a Fine Line between Sadism and Horror.Scott Woodcock - 2023 - Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 25 (1).
Fear within the Frames: Horror Comics and Moral Danger.Scott Woodcock - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

Add more citations