Barbarous Spectacle and General Massacre: A Defence of Gory Fictions

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Abstract
Many people suspect it is morally wrong to watch the graphically violent horror films colloquially known as gorefests. A prominent argument vindicating this suspicion is the Argument from Reactive Attitudes (ARA). The ARA holds that we have a duty to maintain a well-functioning moral psychology, and watching gorefests violates that duty by threatening damage to our appropriate reactive attitudes. But I argue that the ARA is probably unsound. Depictions of suffering and death in other genres typically do no damage our appropriate reactive attitudes, and until we locate a relevant difference between these depictions in gorefests and in other genres, we should assume that the depictions in gorefests do no damage. I consider and reject three candidate differences: in artistic merit, meaningfulness, and audience orientation. Until genre skeptics identify a relevant difference, we should accept the taste for gory fictions as we would any other morally innocuous variation in taste.
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Archival date: 2019-12-01
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The Distancing-Embracing Model of the Enjoyment of Negative Emotions in Art Reception.Menninghaus, Winfried; Wagner, Valentin; Hanich, Julian; Wassiliwizky, Eugen; Jacobsen, Thomas & Koelsch, Stefan
Fanciful Examples.Stoner, Ian & Swartwood, Jason

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2019-11-30

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