In a recent and provocative essay, Christopher Bartel attempts to resolve the gamer’s dilemma. The dilemma, formulated by Morgan Luck, goes as follows: there is no principled distinction between virtual murder and virtual pedophilia. So, we’ll have to give up either our intuition that virtual murder is morally permissible—seemingly leaving us over-moralizing our gameplay—or our intuition that acts of virtual pedophilia are morally troubling—seemingly leaving us under-moralizing our game play. Bartel’s attempted resolution relies on establishing the following three theses: (1) (...) virtual pedophilia is child pornography, (2) the consumption of child pornography is morally wrong, and (3) virtual murder is not murder. Relying on Michael Rea’s definition of pornography, I argue that we should reject thesis one, but since Bartel’s moral argument in thesis two does not actually rely thesis one that his resolution is not thereby undermined. Still, even if we grant that there are adequate resources internal to Bartel’s account to technically resolve the gamer’s dilemma his reasoning is still unsatisfying. This is so because Bartel follows Neil Levy in arguing that virtual pedophilia is wrong because it harms women. While I grant Levy’s account, I argue that this is the wrong kind of reason to resolve the gamer’s dilemma because it is indirect. What we want is to know what is wrong with virtual child pornography itself. Finally, I suggest alternate moral resources for resolving the gamer’s dilemma that are direct in a way that Bartel’s resources are not. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Matthew Kieran has recently argued that those he calls ‘appreciative snobs’ go wrong by valuing appreciative objects primarily because of their ability to raise the snob’s social status, what I call social contagion snobbery. In this paper, I argue that there are at least two other ways that snobbery commonly manifests itself in appreciative contexts, what I call attitudinal snobbery and contextual snobbery. As it turns out, all three snobs—Kieran’s social-contagion snob, the attitudinal snob, and the contextual snob—represent distinct ways (...) that appreciative judgments can go wrong because of how socio-hierarchical elements figure into the snob’s appreciative judgments. (shrink)
In a series of important papers, Justin D’Arms and Daniel Jacobson argue that all extant neo-sentimentalists are guilty of a conflation error that they call the moralistic fallacy. One commits the moralistic fallacy when one infers from the fact that it would be morally wrong to experience an affective attitude—e.g., it would be wrong to be amused—that the attitude does not fit its object—e.g., that it is not funny. Such inferences, they argue, conflate the appropriateness conditions of attitudinal responses with (...) the fittingness conditions of the associated evaluative properties. Further, they argue that moral considerations are irrelevant for determining if amusement fits its object. We agree that a strong moralizing of humor is wrongheaded and that jokes can be quite funny even in cases where we have a compelling moral reason to not be amused. However, we argue that pace D’Arms and Jacobson moral considerations can be relevant for property ascription. On our view, in order for a joke to be funny, a properly sensitive agent must take herself to have a contributory reason to be amused, and in some cases that she lacks such a reason is best explained by appeal to moral considerations. We use this constraint as the basis of what we call our modest proposal for a modest sentimentalism. (shrink)
We defend a fitting-attitude theory of the funny against a set of potential objections. Ultimately, we endorse a version of FA theory that treats reasons for amusement as non-compelling, metaphysically non-conditional, and alterable by social features of the joke telling context. We find that this version of FA theory is well-suited to accommodate our ordinary practices of telling and being amused by jokes, and helpfully bears on the related faultless disagreement dispute.
This essay briefly introduces and contextualizes the extant work on aesthetic snobbery, and identifies some areas for further inquiry. Currently four kinds of snobbery have been identified—social contagion snobbery, attitudinal snobbery, contextual snobbery, and straight-up classist snobbery. Interestingly, each kind of snobbery is thought to manifest itself as a distinct epistemic failing, and for this reason they are advanced as distinct, non-competing kinds of snobbery. Some snob’s aesthetic judgments will be false or unjustified (social-contagion and straight-up classist), some will be (...) unfitting (contextual), and some will fail to have an apt attitude toward their aesthetic judgment (attitudinal). Because the debate has been framed so narrowly, on how the vice of aesthetic snobbery undermines aesthetic judgment, several fruitful areas of philosophical investigation remain unexplored. (shrink)
Moralists hold that art criticism can and should take stock of moral considerations. Though moralists disagree over the proper scope of ethical art criticism, they are unified in their acceptance of the consistency of valence thesis: when an artwork fares poorly from the moral point of view, and this fact is art critically relevant, then it is thereby worse qua artwork. In this paper, I argue that a commitment to moralism, however strong, is unattractive because it requires that we radically (...) revise our art critical practices in contexts where revision seems ill advised. I will consider two such cases, Pushkinâs Eugene Onegin and Balthusâ Alice. When we further reflect on our actual art critical practices in cases like these, we find that we do not have an unfailing commitment to the consistency of valence thesis. That is, some artworks are (artistically) good because they are (morally) bad. (shrink)