Many have offered moral objections to video games, with various critics contending that they depict and promote morally dubious attitudes and behaviour. However, few have offered moral arguments in favour of video games. In this chapter, we develop one such positive moral argument. Specifically, we argue that video games offer one of the only morally acceptable methods for acquiring some ethical knowledge. Consequently, we have (defeasible) moral reasons for creating, distributing, and playing certain morally educating video games.
This chapter provides a general overview and introduction to the law and ethics of virtual sexual assault. It offers a definition of the phenomenon and argues that there are six interesting types. It then asks and answers three questions: (i) should we criminalise virtual sexual assault? (ii) can you be held responsible for virtual sexual assault? and (iii) are there issues with 'consent' to virtual sexual activity that might make it difficult to prosecute or punish virtual sexual assault?
It is commonly assumed that a virtual life would be less meaningful (perhaps even meaningless). As virtual reality technologies develop and become more integrated into our everyday lives, this poses a challenge for those that care about meaning in life. In this chapter, it is argued that the common assumption about meaninglessness and virtuality is mistaken. After clarifying the distinction between two different visions of virtual reality, four arguments are presented for thinking that meaning is possible in virtual reality. Following (...) this, four objections are discussed and rebutted. The chapter concludes that we can be cautiously optimistic about the possibility of meaning in virtual worlds. (shrink)
A long-standing aim of cinema – in particular of ‘extreme’, ‘unwatchable’ or ‘feel- bad’ cinema – has been to acquaint viewers with extreme suffering. In this article I first offer an explication of that aim in terms of recent work in philosophy of mind, then exploit the resulting framework to examine claims to the effect that a new technological development, Virtual Reality, provides cinema's best shot at achieving that aim.
How do we assign values to virtual items, which include virtual objects, properties, events, subjects, worlds, environments, and experiences? In this article, I offer a framework for answering this question. After considering different value theses in the literature, I argue that whether we think these theses mutually exclusive or not turns on our view about the number of value-salient kinds virtual items belong to. Virtual monism is the view that virtual Xs belong to only one value-salient kind in relation to (...) X. Virtual pluralism is the view that they belong to more than one value-salient kind. I argue for two claims. First, virtual monism is mistaken. Minimally some virtual Xs are Xs, while others are not. Second, dualistic virtual pluralism is also mistaken because it is too coarse grained. Instead, I argue for fourfold pluralism: virtual items either represent an original's properties or reproduce essential properties and do so to lesser or greater extents. This gives us four value-salient kinds of virtual X: virtual reproductions, simulations, representations, and simulacra of X. I apply this view to various debates in the literature and conclude with a discussion of less basic hybrid kinds. (shrink)
Extended Reality (XR) and Large Language Model (LLM) technologies have the potential to significantly influence higher education practices and pedagogy in the coming years. As these emerging technologies reshape the educational landscape, it is crucial for educators and higher education professionals to understand their implications and make informed policy decisions for both individual courses and universities as a whole. -/- This paper has two parts. In the first half, we give an overview of XR technologies and their potential future role (...) in higher education. Then, we discuss the benefits and challenges of adopting and integrating XR technologies into higher education settings. Finally, we offer recommendations for educators, administrators, and policymakers on how to approach the adoption of this set of technologies and set institutional policy to take advantage of its benefits while minimizing its potential negative consequences. -/- In the paper’s second half, we discuss LLMs - specifically Generative Pre-trained Transformers (GPTs). Again, we provide an overview of this rapidly developing technology and examine its unprecedented and potentially disruptive impact on higher education pedagogy. We delve into the benefits and limitations of GPTs, highlighting the pedagogical and ethical challenges they may pose. Finally, we present actionable recommendations for instructors and administrators at both the course level and the university-wide level to guide policy decisions concerning these transformative technologies. (shrink)
In this paper we review digital technologies that can be used to study what the experiences of past peoples might have been. We focus on the use of immersive virtual reality (VR) systems to frame hypotheses about the visual and auditory experiences of past individuals, based on available archeological evidence. These reconstructions of past places and landscapes are often focused on visual data. We argue that we should move beyond this ocularcentric focus by integrating sound and other modalities into VR. (...) However, even those that emphasize sound in archaeology—as in archaeoacoustics (Scarre & Lawson, 2006; Diaz-Andreu & Mattioli, 2015; Suárez et al., 2016)—often retain a unimodal emphasis that limits how much we can understand of past peoples’ sensory experience. We argue that it is important to emphasize the importance of seeing and hearing at the same time (i.e. multi-modal sensory integration) in phenomenological archaeology. This is possible using immersive virtual reality systems that can engage users with both sight and sound simultaneously. (shrink)
In this paper, we assess the impact of extended reality technologies as they relate to sexual forms of harassment. We begin with a brief history of the nature of sexual harassment itself. We then offer an account of extended reality technologies focusing specifically on psychological and hardware elements most likely to comprise what has been referred to as “the metaverse”. Although different forms of virtual spaces exist (i.e., private, semi-private, and public), we focus on public social metaverse spaces. We do (...) this to better explain how the concept of sexual harassment must be adjusted to such spaces and how approaches aimed at mitigating harassment must be sensitive to the type of metaverse spaces users utilize. We then offer a typology of sexual harassment for the metaverse focusing on three distinct forms of sexual harassment: (1) invariant (2) mixed variance or modified and (3) unique or metaverse specific. Although existing normative and legal frameworks may function well with respect to the first and, possibly, second forms of harassment, we argue such frameworks will not helpfully address metaverse-specific harassment. Ultimately, the changing nature of privately owned public spaces (POPS) which metaverses are likely to represent pose distinct ethical and regulatory challenges. (shrink)
The gamer’s dilemma offers three plausible but jointly inconsistent premises: (1) Virtual murder in video games is morally permissible. (2) Virtual paedophelia in video games is not morally permissible. (3) There is no morally relevant difference between virtual murder and virtual paedophelia in video games. In this paper I argue that the gamer’s dilemma can be understood as one of three distinct dilemmas, depending on how we understand two key ideas in Morgan Luck’s (2009) original formulation. The two ideas are (...) those of (1) occurring in a video game and (2) being a virtual instance of murder or paedophelia. Depending on the weight placed on the gaming context, the dilemma is either about in-game acts or virtual acts. And depending on the type of virtual acts we have in mind, the dilemma is either about virtual representations or virtual partial reproductions of murder and paedophelia. This gives us three dilemmas worth resolving: a gaming dilemma, a representation dilemma, and a simulation dilemma. I argue that these dilemmas are about different issues, apply to different cases, and are susceptible to different solutions. I also consider how different participants in the debate have interpreted the dilemma in one or more of these three ways. (shrink)
The Experience Machine The experience machine is a thought experiment first devised by Robert Nozick in the 1970s. In the last decades of the 20th century, an argument based on this thought experiment has been considered a knock-down objection to hedonism about well-being, the thesis that our well-being—that is, the goodness or badness of our … Continue reading The Experience Machine →.
A leading philosopher takes a mind-bending journey through virtual worlds, illuminating the nature of reality and our place within it. Virtual reality is genuine reality; that's the central thesis of Reality+. In a highly original work of "technophilosophy," David J. Chalmers gives a compelling analysis of our technological future. He argues that virtual worlds are not second-class worlds, and that we can live a meaningful life in virtual reality. We may even be in a virtual world already. Along the way, (...) Chalmers conducts a grand tour of big ideas in philosophy and science. He uses virtual reality technology to offer a new perspective on long-established philosophical questions. How do we know that there's an external world? Is there a god? What is the nature of reality? What's the relation between mind and body? How can we lead a good life? All of these questions are illuminated or transformed by Chalmers' mind-bending analysis. Studded with illustrations that bring philosophical issues to life, Reality+ is a major statement that will shape discussion of philosophy, science, and technology for years to come. (shrink)
In this paper a new resolution to the gamer’s dilemma is presented. The first part of the paper is devoted to strictly formulating the dilemma, and the second to establishing its resolution. The proposed resolution, the grave resolution, aims to resolve not only the gamer’s dilemma, but also a wider set of analogous paradoxes – which together make up the paradox of treating wrongdoing lightly.
The trolley problem is one of the liveliest research frameworks in experimental ethics. In the last decade, social neuroscience and experimental moral psychology have gone beyond the studies with mere text-based hypothetical moral dilemmas. In this article, I present the rationale behind testing the actual behaviour in more realistic scenarios through Virtual Reality and summarize the body of evidence raised by the experiments with virtual trolley scenarios. Then, I approach the argument of Ramirez and LaBarge (2020), who claim that the (...) virtual simulation of the Footbridge version of the trolley dilemma is an unethical research practice, and I raise some objections to it. Finally, I provide some reflections about the means and ends of trolley-like scenarios and other sacrificial dilemmas in experimental ethics. (shrink)
This book examines the ethics of virtual reality technologies. New forms of virtual reality are emerging in society, not just from low-cost gaming headsets, or augmented reality apps on phones, but from simulated “deep fake” images and videos on social media. This book subjects the new VR technological landscape to ethical scrutiny: assessing the benefits, risks and regulatory practices that shape it. Though often associated with gaming, education and therapy, VR can also be used for moral enhancement. Journalists, artists, philanthropic (...) and non-governmental organisations are using VR films, games and installations to stimulate user empathy to marginalised peoples through a combination of immersion, embodiment and persuasion. This book critically assesses the use of VR for empathy arousal and pro-social behaviour change, culminating in the development of a VR “ethical tool” – a device to facilitate reflective ethical judgement. Drawing upon the pragmatist philosophy of John Dewey, virtual reality is reshaped as “dramatic rehearsal”. This book explains how a combination of immersive environment-building, moral imagination, choice architecture and reflective engagement can stimulate a future-focused and empathic ethics for users of the technology. (shrink)
As screen-based virtual worlds have gradually begun facilitating more and more of our social interactions, some researchers have argued that the virtual worlds of these interactions do not allow for embodied social understanding. The aim of this article is to examine exactly the possibility of this by looking to esports practitioners’ experiences of interacting with each other during performance. By engaging in an integration of qualitative research methodologies and phenomenology, we investigate the actual first-person experiences of interaction in the virtual (...) worlds of the popular team-based esports practices Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. Our analysis discloses how the practitioners’ interactions essentially depend on intercorporeality – understood as a form of reciprocity of bodily intentionality between the players. This is an intercorporeality that is present throughout the players’ performance, but which especially comes to the front when they engage in feinting. Acknowledging the intercorporeality integral to at least some esports practices helps fuzzying the sharp division between virtuality and embodied social understanding. Doing so highlights the fluidity of our embodied condition, and it raises interesting questions concerning the possibility of yet other forms of embodied sociality in a wider range of virtual formats in the world. (shrink)
Are acts of violence performed in virtual environments ever morally wrong, even when no other persons are affected? While some such acts surely reflect deficient moral character, I focus on the moral rightness or wrongness of acts. Typically it’s thought that, on Kant’s moral theory, an act of virtual violence is morally wrong (i.e., violate the Categorical Imperative) only if the act mistreats another person. But I argue that, on Kant’s moral theory, some acts of virtual violence can be morally (...) wrong, even when no other persons or their avatars are affected. First, I explain why many have thought that, in general on Kant’s moral theory, virtual acts affecting no other persons or their avatars can’t violate the Categorical Imperative. For there are real world acts that clearly do, but it seems that when we consider the same sorts of acts done alone in a virtual environment, they don’t violate the Categorical Imperative, because no others persons were involved. But then, how could any virtual acts like these, that affect no other persons or their avatars, violate the Categorical Imperative? I then argue that there indeed can be such cases of morally wrong virtual acts—some due to an actor’s having erroneous beliefs about morally relevant facts, and others due not to error, but to the actor’s intention leaving out morally relevant facts while immersed in a virtual environment. I conclude by considering some implications of my arguments for both our present technological context as well as the future. (shrink)
Based on a nuanced understanding of immersion and sense of presence as two key aesthetic effects that the application of virtual reality to cinema is believed to innovate, this paper develops the concept of synthetic vision as fundamental to understanding the visual experience of VR media, particularly VR documentaries. The concept contends that viewers’ experience in VR is based on two visions that seemingly contradict each other: first, a disembodied vision that transports them to a simulated world, and second, an (...) embodied vision guaranteed by the freedom to control kinesthetic movement and direction of gaze. This serves to advance the idea that immersion and SoP are not unified but rather multifaceted concepts premised on a nuanced understanding of the varying relationships between the technological system of VR, its media content, and its user. For the concept of synthetic vision points to the paradoxical coexistence of viewers’ presence in the virtual world and their structural absence from the world that lays the groundwork for their immersive experience. By classifying three generic categories of contemporary VR documentaries, and by examining the aesthetic and ethical underpinnings VR brings to each of them, I argue that it hinges upon what kind of cinematic conventions and genres are remediated to determine the effective synthesis of the two visions. The varying effects of synthetic vision in the three subgenres of VR documentary stress that immersion and SoP have different political and ethical consequences of media witnessing. In the conclusion, I recapitulate multiple implications that the concept of synthetic vision has in regards to both the studies on VR and the recently flourishing investigation into cinematic VR artifacts. (shrink)
The paper presents the main preliminary findings of GEITONIA research project (Growing and Enabling of Information Technologies for Online Neighborhoods: Implications and Applications). Focusing on the development of a local social network for neighborhoods of Nea Smyrni community in Attica (Greece), the main results of an exploratory mixed methods research study, are discussed. The local social network is a non-commercial social medium that operates as a mobile application. Residents of the local community will have the opportunity to use the application (...) for a pilot period, create their virtual neighborhoods, interact with other neighbors, and expand local social ties in a continuum of physical and virtual spatialities. Moreover, taking into consideration residents’ perceptions, demands and visions, regarding a local social network for their neighborhoods, the research project aims to enhance the rule that sets the focus on the users, as co-creators and co-producers of communication technologies. (shrink)
Erick J. Ramirez, Miles Elliott and Per‑Erik Milam (2021) have recently claimed that using Virtual Reality (VR) as an educational nudge to promote empathy is unethical. These authors argue that the influence exerted on the participant through virtual simulation is based on the deception of making them believe that they are someone else when this is impossible. This makes the use of VR for empathy enhancement a manipulative strategy in itself. In this article, we show that Ramirez et al.’s ethical (...) rejection of empathy enhancement through VR is based on confusion. First, we show that this misunderstanding stems from the conception of empathy-enhancing simulations solely as failed attempts at “being someone else,” along with ignoring the crucial difference between the psychological perspective-taking processes of imagine-other and imagine-self. Then, having overcome that misconception, we argue that the ethical misgivings about the use of VR to promote empathy should disappear and that these projects have greater potential for behavioural change than purely sympathy-focused interventions. (shrink)
A virtual community is generally described as a group of people with shared interests, ideas, and goals in a particular digital group or virtual platform. Virtual communities have become ubiquitous in recent times, and almost everyone belongs to one or multiple virtual communities. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its associated national lockdowns, has made virtual communities more essential and a necessary part of our daily lives, whether for work and business, educational purposes or keeping in touch with friends (...) and family. Given these facts, how do we ensure that virtual communities become a true community qua community? We address this question by proposing and arguing for a ‘virtual communitarianism’—an online community that integrates essential features of traditional African communitarianism in its outlook and practice. The paper’s position is that virtual communitarianism can make for a strong ethical virtual community where members can demonstrate a strong sense of group solidarity, care and compassion towards each other. The inclusion of these virtues can bring members who often are farapart and help create a stronger community bond. This will ensure that the evolution of virtual communities does not happen without the integration of progressive African communitarian values. (shrink)
The commercial VR/AR marketplace is gaining ground and is becoming an ever larger and more significant component of the global economy. While much attention has been paid to the commercial promise of VR/AR, comparatively little attention has been given to the ethical issues that VR/AR technologies introduce. We here examine existing codes of ethics proposed by the ACM and IEEE and apply them to the unique ethical facets that VR/AR introduces. We propose a VR/AR code of ethics for developers and (...) apply this code to several commercial applications. (shrink)
This paper analyzes in the use of virtual reality when used to induce full-body ownership in violent offenders in order to elicit empathetic feelings by allowing them to embody the virtual body of a victim of domestic abuse. The authors explore potentially harmful effects to individuals participating in this kind of therapy and question whether consent is fully informed. The paper concludes with guidelines for ethical research and rehabilitation using this innovative technology.
This paper expands Rami Ali’s dissolution of the gamer’s dilemma (Ethics Inf Technol 17:267-274, 2015). Morgan Luck’s gamer’s dilemma (Ethics Inf Technol 11(1):31-36, 2009) rests on our having diverging intuition when considering virtual murder and virtual child molestation in video games. Virtual murder is seemingly permissible, when virtual child molestation is not and there is no obvious morally relevant difference between the two. Ali argues that virtual murder and virtual child molestation are equally permissible/impermissible when considered under different modes of (...) engagement. To this end, Ali distinguishes between story-telling gameplay and simulation games, discussing both in depth. I build on the dissolution by looking into competitive gameplay in order to consider what the morally relevant difference between virtual murder and virtual child molestation might be when competing in a video game. I argue that when competitors consent to participate in a competition, the rules of the competition supersede everyday moral intuitions. As such, virtual competitions ought to represent such consent from virtual characters. Virtual children cannot be represented as giving consent to be molested because (1) children cannot be represented as giving sexual consent, and (2) consent to be possibly molested cannot be given. This creates a morally relevant difference between murder and molestation. By fully addressing competitive gameplay, I answer Luck’s worry that Ali’s dissolution is incomplete (Ethics Inf Technol 20:157-162, 2018). (shrink)
The Gamer's Dilemma challenges us to find a distinction between virtual murder and virtual pedophilia. Without such a distinction, we are forced to conclude that either both are morally acceptable or that both should be morally illicit. This paper argues that the best way to solve the dilemma is, in one sense, to dissolve it. The Gamer's Dilemma rests on a misunderstanding in the sense that it does not distinguish between the form of a simulation and its surface content. A (...) greater appreciation of the way structural features of a simulation affect subject experience will help us see why only simulations of murder and pedophilia generating virtually real experiences are likely to be seen as wrong. I argue that a simulation’s structural elements powerfully affect how subjects experience simulated content and hence is an important, and previously neglected, variable necessary to dissolve the Gamer's Dilemma. Properly understood, virtually real simulations of murder and pedophilia are both likely to be treated by players as morally wrong. Similarly, virtually unreal murder and pedophilia will be less likely to be judged as wrong. Subject judgments are thus consistent once a simulation’s structural variables are accounted for. The Gamer's Dilemma dissolves as a dilemma once we acknowledge these structural features of simulations and how they affect experience and moral judgment. (shrink)
The history of humankind is full of examples that indicate a constant desire to make human beings more moral. Nowadays, technological breakthroughs might have a significant impact on our moral character and abilities. This is the case of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies. The aim of this paper is to consider the ethical aspects of the use of VR in enhancing empathy. First, we will offer an introduction to VR, explaining its fundamental features, devices and concepts. Then, we will approach the (...) characterization of VR as an “empathy machine,” showing why this medium has aroused so much interest and why, nevertheless, we do not believe it is the ideal way to enhance empathy. As an alternative, we will consider fostering empathy-related abilities through virtual embodiment in avatars. In the conclusion, however, we will, we will examine some of the serious concerns related to the ethical relevance of empathy and will defend the philosophical case for a reason-guided empathy, also suggesting specific guidelines for possible future developments of empathy enhancement projects through VR embodied experiences. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that virtual manifestations of selfhood in VR environments have a transformative effect on the users, which in turn has spillover effects in the physical world. I will argue in favor of extending our notion of personal identity as to include VR avatars as negotiable bodies that constitute a genuine part of who we are. Recent research in VR shows that users can experience the Proteus Effect and other lasting psychological changes after being immersed in VR. (...) An extended theory of the self, modeled after the extended mind thesis advanced by Clark and Chalmers (1998), can offer a deeper understanding of how and why immersive virtual experiences have such a transformative effect on users. The early VR scholars had a similar intuition- that “VR is a medium for the extension of body and mind” (Biocca and Delaney 1995), acting like a genuine “reality engine” (Biocca and Levy 1995). (shrink)
We argue that moral judgment studies currently conducted utilizing virtual reality (VR) devices must confront a dilemma due to how virtual environments are designed and how those environments are experienced. We begin by first describing the contexts present in paradigmatic cases of naturalistic moral judgments. We then compare these contexts to current traditional (vignette-based) and VR-based moral judgment research. We show that, contra to paradigmatic cases, vignette-based and VR-based moral judgment research often fails to accurately model the situational features of (...) paradigmatic moral judgments. In particular, we compare and contrast six recent VR studies to support our view that only simulations high in context-realism and perspectival-fidelity can produce ‘virtually real experiences.’ After analyzing the constituents of a virtually-real experience, we go on to propose guidelines for the creation of VR studies. These guidelines serve two purposes. First, we aim to increase the ecological validity of such studies in order to advance our understanding of moral judgments. Second, we believe that such guidelines should inform how Institutional Review Boards assess VR research. We show that our guidelines are urgently needed given the current lax review standards in place. (shrink)
Marriage is one of the most important topics in the education field since life in this world is structured by interaction among families and between families and other social institutions. Dissatisfaction and unsustainability of marriage have led the urgency of premarital education in various countries. The problem is that the spread of virtual reality has made marriage itself to become more complex and experience reinterpretation and reconfiguration, moreover with the emergence of new kind of marriage in the digital era, i.e. (...) virtual marriage. Everybody who has observed, known, or even tried, certainly asks the question, “Could (or: should) I accept virtual marriage?” . This study was aimed to investigate the role of tolerance of ambiguity and illusion of intimacy in online dating in predicting the acceptance of virtual marriage. There were 420 adolescents and young adults (212 males, 208 females; Mage=21.10 years old, SDage=1.459 years; 338 students, 82 employees or entrepreneurs) in the Greater Jakarta, Indonesia, participated in this study. It was found that the acceptance was not predicted by the ambiguity tolerance, but by the illusion of intimacy in online dating. The psychometric issues, substantive discussion, and recommendation are presented at the end of this article. The trend of virtual marriage should not be allowed to roll away, by autopilot, without loaded by strategies in designing an online game as one of the pivotal educational technologies that needs to shape appropriate character and attitude for it. (shrink)
Debates that revolve around the topic of morality and fiction rarely explicitly treat virtual worlds like, for example, Second Life. The reason for this disregard cannot be that all users of virtual worlds only do the right thing while online—for they sometimes even virtually kill each other. Is it wrong to kill other people in a virtual world? It depends. This essay analyzes on what it depends, why it is that killing people in a virtual world sometimes is wrong, and (...) how different virtual killings are wrong in different ways. I argue that killing people online is wrong if it is an instance of deliberately and non-consensually evoking disagreeable emotions in others. Establishing this conclusion requires substantial conceptual work, as virtual worlds feature new kinds of fictional agency, particular emotional responses to fiction, and unique ways in which the fiction of the virtual world relates to the wrongness of the killing. (shrink)
This article criticizes what it calls perspectival thought experiments, which require subjects to mentally simulate a perspective before making judgments from within it. Examples include Judith Thomson's violinist analogy, Philippa Foot's trolley problem, and Bernard Williams's Jim case. The article argues that advances in the philosophical and psychological study of empathy suggest that the simulative capacities required by perspectival thought experiments are all but impossible. These thought experiments require agents to consciously simulate necessarily unconscious features of subjectivity. To complete these (...) experiments subjects must deploy theory-theoretical frameworks to predict what they think they would do. These outputs, however, systematically mislead subjects and are highly prone to error. They are of negligible probative value, and this bodes poorly for their continued use. The article ends with two suggestions. First, many thought experiments are not problematically perspectival. Second, it should be possible to carry out “in-their-shoes” perspectival thought experiments by off-loading simulations onto virtual environments into which philosophers place subjects. (shrink)
Roxanne Kurtz has argued that the "virtual rape" of a character in a computer-generated world (an avatar) shares many (though obviously not all) of the wrong-making features of physical rape in the real world. I agree in part, but argue that, due to the typical features of virtual worlds, its wrongfulness is dominated by the harm it does to the avatar user's capacity for social interaction and self-representation. In the course of the argument I hope to shed more light upon (...) the nature of avatars, and their relationship to "offline" avatars in, e.g., role-playing and children's games. (shrink)
The goal of this article is to present a first list of ethical concerns that may arise from research and personal use of virtual reality (VR) and related technology, and to offer concrete recommendations for minimizing those risks. Many of the recommendations call for focused research initiatives. In the first part of the article, we discuss the relevant evidence from psychology that motivates our concerns. In Section “Plasticity in the Human Mind,” we cover some of the main results suggesting that (...) one’s environment can influence one’s psychological states, as well as recent work on inducing illusions of embodiment. Then, in Section “Illusions of Embodiment and Their Lasting Effect,” we go on to discuss recent evidence indicating that immersion in VR can have psychological effects that last after leaving the virtual environment. In the second part of the article, we turn to the risks and recommendations. We begin, in Section “The Research Ethics of VR,” with the research ethics of VR, covering six main topics: the limits of experimental environments, informed consent, clinical risks, dual-use, online research, and a general point about the limitations of a code of conduct for research. Then, in Section “Risks for Individuals and Society,” we turn to the risks of VR for the general public, covering four main topics: long-term immersion, neglect of the social and physical environment, risky content, and privacy. We offer concrete recommendations for each of these 10 topics, summarized in Table 1. (shrink)
Is virtual reality the latest grand narrative that humanity has produced? This book attempts to disentangle the common characteristics of human reality and posthuman virtual reality by examining discourses on psychoanalysis, gene-technology, globalization, and contemporary art.
The scope of this research paper is to analyze the value integrative-models that can be applied to the virtual interactive constructs, but also to delineate the correspondences established between identity, self and value representation. Concerning the social acquirements that can be distinguished at the level of virtual communities, it is necessary to follow the immersion/ regression processes through which a value layout is settled. Concerning the User’s ability to mediate this value progression in various networking sequences, an analysis of the (...) content transfer modalities between the social agents and occurrences is required. Along with the axiological functions that a virtual interactive project can sustain, a new issue arises: does the social cyberspace actually support a moral layer? Between projection and representation, virtual identities merge specific patterns of valuation and assessment that reflect different virtual scenarios. Therefore, the finalities of this study are oriented towards the interpretation that value criteria and ethical standards attain within a viable/feasible virtual community. Questioning the value transfer regularities, the moral imaginaries and the metaethical subject predicaments involves a clear delineation of the virtual cultural elements in a new, modern perspective. (shrink)
There is an ongoing debate about the value of virtual friendship. In contrast to previous authorships, this paper argues that virtual friendship can have independent value. It is argued that within an Aristotelian framework, some friendships that are perhaps impossible offline can exist online, i.e., some offline unequals can be online equals and thus form online friendships of independent value.
The term “virtual reality” was first coined by Antonin Artaud to describe a value-adding characteristic of certain types of theatrical performances. The expression has more recently come to refer to a broad range of incipient digital technologies that many current philosophers regard as a serious threat to human autonomy and well-being. Their concerns, which are formulated most succinctly in “brain in a vat”-type thought experiments and in Robert Nozick's famous “experience machine” argument, reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the way that (...) such technologies would probably have to work. They also considerably underestimate the positive contributions that virtual reality technologies could make to the growth of human knowledge. Here, we examine and critique Nozick's claim that no reasonable person would want to plug into his hypothetical experience machine in light of a broadly enactivist understanding of how future VR technologies might be expected to function. We then sketch out a tentative theory of the phenomenon of truth in fiction, in order to characterize some of the distinct epistemic opportunities that VR technologies promise to provide. (shrink)
In an age of growing virtual communication the question arises what role the human capacity of empathy plays in virtual relations. May empathy be detached from the immediate, embodied contact with others and be transferred to such relations? In order to answer this question, the paper distinguishes between primary, intercorporeal empathy and extended empathy which is based on the imaginative representation of the other, and fictional empathy which is directed to imagined or completely fictitious persons. The latter is characterized by (...) an 'as-if-consciousness' that maintains the difference between fiction and reality despite the empathy that one feels for the fictitious person. Based on these analyses, the paper further investigates the impact of the growing virtualization in postmodern culture. This is captured by the notions of phantomization as a media-based simulation of direct reality which undermines the as-if-consciousness, and disembodied communication which shifts the modes of empathy towards the fictional pole at the risk of merely projecting one's own feelings onto the other. In sum, human empathy is not bound to immediate intercorporeal contact, but becomes a crucial medium of virtual relations as well, albeit at the risk of projecting fictional emotions. (shrink)
Whilst some philosophical progress has been made on the ethical evaluation of playing video games, the exact subject matter of this enquiry remains surprisingly opaque. ‘Virtual murder’, simulation, representation and more are found in a literature yet to settle into a tested and cohesive terminology. Querying the language of the virtual in particular, I suggest that it is at once inexplicit and laden with presuppositions potentially liable to hinder anyone aiming to construct general philosophical claims about an ethics of gameplay, (...) for whom assumptions about the existence of ‘virtual’ counterparts to morally salient phenomena may prove untrustworthy. Ambiguously straddling the pictorial and the performative aspects of video gaming, the virtual leaves obscure the ways in which we become involved in gameplay, and particularly the natures of our intentions and attitudes whilst grappling with a game; furthermore, it remains unclear how we are to generalise across encounters with the virtual. I conclude by briefly noting one potential avenue of further enquiry into our modes of participation in games: into the differences which a moral examination of playfulness might make to ethical evaluation. (shrink)
Ethics in the Virtual World examines the gamer's enactment of taboo activities in the context of both traditional and contemporary philosophical approaches to morality. The book argues that it is more productive to consider what individuals are able to cope with psychologically than to determine whether a virtual act or representation is necessarily good or bad. The book raises pertinent questions about one of the most rapidly expanding leisure pursuits in western culture: should virtual enactments warrant moral interest? Should there (...) be a limit to what can be enacted or represented within these games? Or, is it all just a game? (shrink)
Consider the multi-user virtual worlds of online games such as EVE and World of Warcraft, or the multi-user virtual world of Second Life. Suppose a player performs an action in one of these worlds, via his or her virtual character, which would be wrong, if the virtual world were real. What is the moral status of this virtual action? In this paper I consider arguments for and against the Asymmetry Thesis: the thesis that such virtual actions are never wrong. I (...) also explain how the truth of the Asymmetry Thesis is closely aligned with the possibility of what Edward Castronova has called closed synthetic worlds. With some qualifications, the ultimate conclusion is that the Asymmetry Thesis is false and that these closed worlds are impossible. (shrink)
Based on a modern reading of Aristotle’s theory of friendship, we argue that virtual friendship does not qualify as genuine friendship. By ‘virtual friendship’ we mean the type of friendship that exists on the internet, and seldom or never is combined with real life interaction. A ‘traditional friendship’ is, in contrast, the type of friendship that involves substantial real life interaction, and we claim that only this type can merit the label ‘genuine friendship’ and thus qualify as morally valuable. The (...) upshot of our discussion is that virtual friendship is what Aristotle might have described as a lower and less valuable form of social exchange. (shrink)
In this article I examine a recent development in online communication, the immersive virtual worlds of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). I argue that these environments provide a distinct form of online experience from the experience available through earlier generation forms of online communication such as newsgroups, chat rooms, email and instant messaging. The experience available to participants in MMORPGs is founded on shared activity, while the experience of earlier generation online communication is largely if not wholly dependent on (...) the communication itself. This difference, I argue, makes interaction in immersive virtual worlds such as MMORPGs relevantly similar to interaction in the physical world, and distinguishes both physical world and immersive virtual world interaction from other forms of online communication. I argue that to the extent that shared activity is a core element in the formation of friendships, friendships can form in immersive virtual worlds as they do in the physical world, and that this possibility was unavailable in earlier forms of online interaction. I do, however, note that earlier forms of online interaction are capable of sustaining friendships formed through either physical or immersive virtual world interaction. I conclude that we cannot any longer make a sharp distinction between the physical and the virtual world, as the characteristics of friendship are able to be developed in each. (shrink)