Barbarous Spectacle and General Massacre: A Defence of Gory Fictions

Journal of Applied Philosophy 37 (4):511-527 (2020)
  Copy   BIBTEX

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 to 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.

Author's Profile

Ian Stoner
Saint Paul College

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-11-30

Downloads
758 (#1,611)

6 months
174 (#79,024)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?