Crossing the Fictional Line: Moral Graveness, the Gamer’s Dilemma, and the Paradox of Fictionally Going Too Far

Philosophy and Technology 36 (3):1-21 (2023)
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The Gamer’s Dilemma refers to the philosophical challenge of justifying the intuitive difference people seem to see between the moral permissibility of enacting virtual murder and the moral impermissibility of enacting virtual child molestation in video games (Luck Ethics and Information Technology, 1:31, 2009). Recently, Luck in Philosophia, 50:1287–1308, 2022 has argued that the Gamer’s Dilemma is actually an instance of a more general “paradox”, which he calls the “paradox of treating wrongdoing lightly”, and he proposes a graveness resolution to this paradox. In response, we argue for four key claims. First, we accept Luck’s expansion of the Gamer’s Dilemma to be applicable to a wider set of media, but give a novel recasting of this in terms of the Paradox of Fictionally Going Too Far. Second, we develop a novel criticism of Luck in Philosophia, 50:1287–1308, 2022 graveness resolution to this broader paradox. Third, we argue that the Paradox of Fictionally Going Too Far helps to expose an implicit moralism in the Gamer’s Dilemma literature when compared to relevant nearby literatures about other forms of media. Fourth, we consider a range of non-moral, cultural and media conventions that plausibly help to dissolve the intuitive moral gap between non-sexual and sexual violence that is central to this paradox.

Author Profiles

Thomas Montefiore
Macquarie University
Paul Formosa
Macquarie University


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