2012 Abstracts Stage 3

The Morality of Violent Video Games

Laura Kerr, 2012, Stage 3

Links between violent video games and highly publicised violent crimes have resulted in society continuously questioning the morality behind violent games such as Grand Theft Auto III. From a philosophical perspective can violent video games be deemed moral?

Mill: An action is moral if its consequences result in more good than harm for the majority. Mill therefore would not have condemned violent video games as there is not enough evidence to suggest a link between violence in games and violence in reality. However, video games are classed as a lower pleasure and so must be played in moderation.

Kant: Kant was concerned with activities that result in an increased propensity for one’s duties to be violated. As with Mill, Kant would not condemn video games as not enough evidence exists to suggest one is more likely to violate their duties as a result of violent game play. In multiplayer gaming one can use other players as means to an end, which goes against Kant’s categorical imperative. However, Kant would view this purely as bad gamesmanship.

Aristotle: Aristotle’s main concern with violent video games would have been the effect they have on one’s character. He proposed that overexposure to violent acts damages one’s personality. Therefore Aristotle would have condemned violent video games purely for the effect extreme violence has on one’s character

The current world of violent video gaming with its age limits may fall successfully into the category of moral but what future technology has in store will bring with it a whole new set of issues.

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