Emotion and Ethics in Virtual Reality

Australasian Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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It is controversial whether virtual reality should be considered fictional or real. Virtual fictionalists claim that objects and events within virtual reality are merely fictional: they are imagined and do not exist. Virtual realists argue that virtual objects and events really exist. This metaphysical debate might appear important for some of the practical questions that arise regarding how to morally evaluate and legally regulate virtual reality. For instance, one advantage claimed of virtual realism is that only by taking virtual objects and events to be real can we explain our strong emotional reactions to certain virtual actions, as well as their potential immorality. This paper argues that emotional reactions towards, and wrongs within, virtual reality are consistent with its being merely fictional. The emotional and ethical judgments we wish to make regarding virtual reality do not provide any grounds for preferring virtual realism.

Author's Profile

Alex Fisher
Cambridge University


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