Real norms, virtual cases: a rationalist, casuistic account of virtual rape

Johnny Soraker

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The purpose of this paper is to propose and consider a rationalist account of the effects of virtual experiences, such as engaging in simulated acts of violence in video games. This descriptive account will be based on sound principles for case-based reasoning, or what I will refer to as case-norm-case casuistics, and it is put forward as an alternative to emotivist explanations of the effects of virtual violence. Instead of asking how virtual violence might lead to changes in our moral intuitions, the proposed account asks how virtual violence might lead to changes in our moral reasoning. The controversial notion of ‘virtual rape’ will be used as an example of how the two accounts ask fundamentally different questions and how the proposed account can yield an increased understanding of how experiences in virtual environments can change our moral norms. Prior to outlining the basics of this account and the issue of virtual rape in particular, I will outline some of the problems with emotivist claims about the effects of virtual violence, especially insofar as these claims rely on ethically and methodologically problematic experiments.
Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationProceedings of CEPE 2007
EditorsL. Hinman, Philip A.E. Brey
Place of PublicationEnschede
PublisherCentre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT)
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Publication series

NameCTIT Workshop Proceedings
PublisherUniversity of Twente, Centre for Telematics and Information Technology (CTIT)
ISSN (Print)1574-0846
ISSN (Electronic)0929-0672


  • METIS-243141
  • IR-94144

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