• Captain Homicide
    33
    The gamer’s dilemma was created in 2009 by the philosopher Morgan Luck and boils down to the basic argument that if in and of itself virtual murder in video games like the kind in GTA is morally permissible because no one is actually being harmed then in and of itself virtual pedophilia and rape in video games must be morally permissible also for the same reason. He argues that they’re either both morally permissible despite society finding sexual assault far more distasteful and violative than murder or they’re both impermissible. In his article he then goes on to respond to five different counter arguments that attempt to find a relevant moral difference between virtual murder and virtual sexual assault.

    What is your opinion on the argument?

    Are Luck’s arguments and counter arguments sound?

    Here’s the link to the article: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226803779_The_gamer's_dilemma_An_analysis_of_the_arguments_for_the_moral_distinction_between_virtual_murder_and_virtual_paedophilia
  • T Clark
    13k
    He argues that they’re either both morally permissible despite society finding sexual assault far more distasteful and violative than murder or they’re both impermissible.Captain Homicide

    I'm not even sure what "morally permissible" means in this context. Does it mean that in my judgment I shouldn't do it, or that no one should do it? Does it mean it should be illegal? I'm a libertarian when it comes to this sort of thing. It certainly shouldn't be illegal to depict any of these things. I'd also say it's not morally impermissible for someone to perform these kinds of acts in video games, but if I knew you were, it would likely change my opinion of you. I never have played video games much and not at all since my kids were in school. When I did, I sometimes killed people without remorse. I don't think I could bring myself to commit rape or pedophilia.
  • Tzeentch
    3.3k
    It's a shoddy article.

    Luck skips explaining the key term for his question: morality.

    And this is where he goes wrong.

    He confuses morality with social convention, and as such starts asking himself nonsense questions, like whether it is morally permissible for a person to 'murder' a pixel on a screen.

    Morality and moral actions pertain to people, and not to pixels.


    He treats morality as though it is the same as social convention, however by pretending he is talking about morality he allows himself to reject the obvious answer to his dilemma: social convention dictates that certain things in video games are acceptable, and other things are not - on the grounds that it seems arbitrary.
  • Art48
    459
    The gamer’s dilemma was created in 2009 by the philosopher Morgan Luck and boils down to the basic argument that if in and of itself virtual murder in video games like the kind in GTA is morally permissible because no one is actually being harmed then in and of itself virtual pedophilia and rape in video games must be morally permissible also for the same reason. He argues that they’re either both morally permissible despite society finding sexual assault far more distasteful and violative than murder or they’re both impermissible. In his article he then goes on to respond to five different counter arguments that attempt to find a relevant moral difference between virtual murder and virtual sexual assault.Captain Homicide

    My take on the argument is "IF killing people in a video game is morally permissible, THEN sexually abusing people in a video game is morally permissible, too."

    A practical response sidesteps the moral question. It says killing in a video game does not encourage the gamer to go kill in real life, but that gamers who get sexual satisfaction out of virtual pedophilia and rape are more likely to do those acts in real life. (I'm not interested in defending the argument. It's just a thought.)

    A deeper response is that Christianity hit the big time as Rome's official religion and that almost any state religion minimizes the taking of human life so its citizens will fight the state's wars. So, killing a human being is as morally impermissible as pedophilia and rape, but centuries of state-mandated Christianity has dulled us to that fact. (Look for a list of wars Christianity has declared an unjust war and forbidden Christians from fighting. It's a very, very short list of length zero.)
  • Christoffer
    1.8k
    What is your opinion on the argument?Captain Homicide

    I would ask the question, are there times when killing can be considered morally good? If so, does the grey nature of that morality make killing in video games more acceptable as an action?

    It can be applied to other forms of storytelling and entertainment as well. When you see a character in a film killing someone, that character can still be considered moral.

    But it seems less possible to put the other acts into a moral grey area. In which situation can you apply sexual assault as morally good? I don't think it's possible to imagine any such scenario.

    In essence, killing is a removal of a threat, removal of a problem while torture in itself doesn't have any function other than for the pleasure of the one torturing. Any act that generates great suffering is less moral than killing because it isn't a solution to anything. We can debate whether killing is a solution at all, but I don't think we can argue against inflicting purposeless prolonged suffering being generally worse than killing.

    If someone threatens to kill every innocent person in a room and you have the ability to kill that person to prevent that from happening, I would argue that most people would see this immoral act of killing as having a specific purpose of removing that threat of purposeless killing. This is of course pretty anti-Kantian, but it is an act that I would argue can be somewhat morally justified, at least society would not judge the one removing the threat as being morally worse or equal to the one wanting to purposeless kill all.

    However, if you were to change out that act to any of the other acts, there is no purpose to them. If someone threatens to kill every innocent person in a room and you instead violently torture this person and sexually abuse him, then you aren't removing the threat anymore, you are acting with purposeless violence yourself.

    And because of this I think that entertainment in games and movies consist of some kind of moral line that is unreasonable to cross. This is why we do not have torture scenes other than for the specific effect of making the player or viewer uncomfortable. It's like when someone hits someone else to stop them from doing something bad we can feel it as a justified act, but if they continue to beat them while they are on the ground everyone jumps in to stop that act.

    Immoral acts seem to be acceptable as being moral in certain situations as long as there's a purpose to them that can be universalized. If there's no such purpose, if the act is meaningless, then that act can be considered always immoral in any form.
  • Benj96
    2.2k
    my opinion is that an act can be expressed or suppressed/buried.

    Expressing it towards a fake or simulated being/simulation is worse than never needing to/never conceiving of it/expressing it in any way in the first place, but is better than doing it to a real life victim.

    So murdering, raping, or being pedophilic towards a virtual character reflects our "virtual or imagined" desires, and is explored without repercussions in the virtual/gaming world where we have no consequences. That doesn't mean the desire to do such is not there (which is an inherent potential to do harm). It just means that inherent potential to harm is expressed through an unharmful conduit.

    The question is does the conduit satisfy curiosity and abate the need to do it in real life, or does it further promote/encourage harm to be committed IRL. I think that depends on each individual and their ability to set boundaries.
  • Benj96
    2.2k
    In essence, is someone who rapes a virtual character knowing there's no consequences, as moral as one that doesn't rape a virtual character knowing there are no consequences. I would say no. As why, do they wish to express rape in any virtual/simulated form in the first place when others cringe at/detest or avoid the idea?
  • RogueAI
    2.4k
    In essence, is someone who rapes a virtual character knowing there's no consequences, as moral as one that doesn't rape a virtual character knowing there are no consequences. I would say no.Benj96

    Doesn't an immoral act require a victim? I.e., someone who is harmed by the immoral act?

    Also, are authors wrong when they subject fictional characters to horrific acts?
  • L'éléphant
    1.4k
    The simpletons will literally take the virtual sexual violence as fiction. I hope that my society limits their number to parts per million (ppm).

    A society has the right to defend itself against both physical and psychological harms. A society living in fear and disgust due to psychological assaults to their senses because sexual violence and murder are protected entertainment is a society whose shared morality is broken.

    If racism and sexism are accepted virtual entertainment -- no matter how offensive -- then what happens to the workplace, for example? We could blur the actual and virtual reality and say, "I was only kidding."
  • Benj96
    2.2k
    Doesn't an immoral act require a victim? I.e., someone who is harmed by the immoral act?RogueAI

    Yes. However I don't believe that victim has to be human, nor inherently living.
    Immoral acts can be crimes again the self, against others, against animals, or against the environment (ecological destruction). As all of these things cause harm to living systems either directly or indirectly.

    Committing an immoral act against a video game character I don't think has any immediate moral implication. But if it encourages future violence against people or animals etc then it could be considered a contributing factor (indirect harm). Proving that is very difficult to establish.
  • I like sushi
    4.3k
    The gamer’s dilemma was created in 2009 by the philosopher Morgan Luck and boils down to the basic argument that if in and of itself virtual murder in video games like the kind in GTA is morally permissible because no one is actually being harmed then in and of itself virtual pedophilia and rape in video games must be morally permissible also for the same reason.Captain Homicide

    As I cannot read the article a couple of caveats … ‘virtual’ anything comes in degrees and levels. Games are not meant to simulate violence accurately.

    I would argue they are ‘okay’ if low resolution representations. Context is also VERY important.
  • RogueAI
    2.4k
    Immoral acts can be crimes again the self, against others, against animals, or against the environment (ecological destruction). As all of these things cause harm to living systems either directly or indirectly.Benj96

    But all those things you listed are in a different category than virtual characters. Virtual characters are essentially mindless collections of electronic switches. Can you harm a light-switch? Can you harm a collection of switches?
  • RogueAI
    2.4k
    But if it encourages future violence against people or animals etc then it could be considered a contributing factor (indirect harm). Proving that is very difficult to establish.Benj96

    It could also lead to less violence, since people have a harmless outlet for their rage.
  • Benj96
    2.2k
    But all those things you listed are in a different category than virtual characters.RogueAI

    Yes they are. I agree. Hence why I said unless harming those virtual characters spills over into harming or planning to harm the other distinct category of things I mentioned, then I see no issue.

    Virtual characters are essentially mindless collections of electronic switches. Can you harm a light-switch?RogueAI

    For now. They say the same thing about AI. A mindless switchboard. But should AI ever become sentient for example, and it simulates a virtual game and you assault the content (characters) of that game, it might be analogous to directly attacking it's imagination, dreams or aspirations. Something that does cause psychological harm to a sentient being (one with psychology - a mind and awareness).
    That will certainly be an interesting conundrum in a future where AI and the things created within it's realm are part of its consciousness.

    It could also lead to less violence, since people have a harmless outlet for their rage.RogueAI

    It could indeed. Again I agree. It could vent urges that would otherwise be bottled up to a point of impulsive real life action with real life consequences. And on the other side, perhaps it is part of the problem: entertaining such violent ideologies that leads someone down a dangerous path of curiosity, where they always wish to make it "a little more real" for the thrill of it.

    I would ask, why is the internal rage there in the first place, when it is not in others. As far as we can know.

    Put it this way. It's the year 2043. All criminals are engaged in a virtual reality simulator where they can act on/indulge in their most perverse and malevolent deeds in a virtual world with no reprimand or policing. And then they can disconnect, go to work and be civil in daily life like any other free citizen.

    In their spare time their mind is preoccupied with mentally living out rape, murder, torture and paedophilia. How would that sit with you, if it meant that this is done in privacy with no "real" victim.

    What is the potential for addiction here? And what is the potential for that addiction to spill into real life too due to pure craving and lack of control. And what is the difference between simulating a murder in the privacy of one's mind (something that is already the case) verses the privacy of VR.

    Do you believe that some people's private thoughts are generally more wholesome than others? And do you think that our imagination and creative interests/indulgences have no effect on our outward behaviour towards the external environment?
  • RogueAI
    2.4k
    In their spare time their mind is preoccupied with mentally living out rape, murder, torture and paedophilia. How would that sit with you, if it meant that this is done in privacy with no "real" victim.Benj96

    Again, authors do the exact same thing in their fictional worlds, do they not? Is Stephen King a monster? To your point, I wouldn't want to hang out with the person you're describing though. But that's not a moral issue. Someone who gets their rocks off torturing virtual characters...ew.
  • Captain Homicide
    33
    Again, authors do the exact same thing in their fictional worlds, do they not? Is Stephen King a monster?RogueAI

    There’s a major difference between thinking of dark things for the sake of a story like a writer does and thinking of dark things for its own sake because you desire to actually do those things and get pleasure from it. I highly doubt creators like King, Tarantino, Barker, Zombie etc actually desire to terrorize, torture, rape or kill people like what happens in their stories.
  • RogueAI
    2.4k
    I highly doubt creators like King, Tarantino, Barker, Zombie etc actually desire to terrorize, torture, rape or kill people like what happens in their stories.Captain Homicide

    Can you be sure?
  • fdrake
    5.9k
    One angle the author's maybe missed is that the broader conditions of a society which allows virtual child molestation are distinguished from societies which allow virtual murder. I read the article as focussing on the expression of individual desire, and an individual's engagement with such a simulation (molestation or murder).

    Perhaps an uncovered counter argument is that it's impossible for a society to avoid the simulation of murder - in fiction, fantasy and so on - but possible for a society to avoid the simulation of child molestation. One reason for that might be that violent conflict can be construed as a cultural universal, whereas child molestation - despite being commonplace - is not typically a codified component of human experience.

    This interfaces with the argument in the paper in the following way; for something to be morally impermissible, it has to be possible not to do. It is impossible for a society not to virtually murder, therefore virtually murdering cannot be impermissible. Whereas we know (perhaps) it is possible for a society to virtually murder and not virtually molest.

    Effectively, this would entail virtual murder on a societal level is unavoidable, whereas virtual molestation on a societal level is avoidable. So only the second can present a moral problem for societies.
  • Captain Homicide
    33
    No which is why I said “highly doubt.” You can’t be perfectly sure of what goes on in anyone’s mind but that doesn’t mean you can’t draw plausible conclusions. Do you have evidence to suggest otherwise? It’s ridiculous to assume creators whose work includes violence and immorality must be intrinsically depraved.
  • RogueAI
    2.4k
    You're right. Somehow I missed the "highly doubt". But suppose we did have an author that got off on torturing/raping his fictional characters. Would that be immoral in any way? Would that be a red flag to other people? I would say no the first question and yes to the second.
  • Captain Homicide
    33
    But suppose we did have an author that got off on torturing/raping his fictional characters.RogueAI

    This would be weird but not immoral considering they solely exist inside his head and aren’t actual people capable of being harmed. As long as he didn’t become obsessed with it and start hurting people in real life I don’t see the issue.
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