Barbarous Spectacle and General Massacre: A Defence of Gory Fictions


Authors
Ian Stoner
Saint Paul College
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.
Keywords argument from reactive attitudes  disgust  horror films  spectatorship ethics
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DOI 10.1111/japp.12405
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Fanciful Examples.Ian Stoner & Jason Swartwood - 2017 - Metaphilosophy 48 (3):325-344.
Art and Painful Emotion.Matthew Strohl - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (1):e12558.

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