Moral outrage porn

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 18 (2):147-72 (2020)
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Abstract

We offer an account of the generic use of the term “porn”, as seen in recent usages such as “food porn” and “real estate porn”. We offer a definition adapted from earlier accounts of sexual pornography. On our account, a representation is used as generic porn when it is engaged with primarily for the sake of a gratifying reaction, freed from the usual costs and consequences of engaging with the represented content. We demonstrate the usefulness of the concept of generic porn by using it to isolate a new type of such porn: moral outrage porn. Moral outrage porn is representations of moral outrage, engaged with primarily for the sake of the resulting gratification, freed from the usual costs and consequences of engaging with morally outrageous content. Moral outrage porn is dangerous because it encourages the instrumentalization of one’s empirical and moral beliefs, manipulating their content for the sake of gratification. Finally, we suggest that when using porn is wrong, it is often wrong because it instrumentalizes what ought not to be instrumentalized.

Author Profiles

C. Thi Nguyen
University of Utah
Bekka Williams
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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