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Virtual morality: the moral status of virtual actions




Wojak, Roland, author
Rollin, Bernard, advisor
Losonsky, Michael, committee member
Volbrecht, Vicki, committee member

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In this thesis, I examine virtual actions and the relationship between them and morality. Increasingly, people are using computer generated virtual mediums for relaxation, work, and socialization. Virtual worlds are one form that virtual mediums can take and are becoming more popular than ever before. These worlds are often characterized by an increased sense of freedom, where people can do things that they could not or would not do in the real world. The problem is that as more people interact within virtual worlds, these interactions are often characterized by negative or harmful behavior in one form or another, and while most people recognize this as a problem, it is unclear whether or not virtual actions can even be classified as morally wrong. I argue that virtual actions are the proper subjects of moral consideration and that, in some cases, they are morally wrong. In order to achieve this, I rely heavily on empirical findings from psychology and from several philosophical theories concerning consciousness and the nature of the self in relation to virtual worlds. By making clear how closely people are connected to the virtual world and showing the real world consequences that are a direct result from virtual actions, I hope to show that virtual actions can and should be morally judged in the same way that actions in the real world are judged.


2012 Fall.
Includes bibliographical references.

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virtual action
virtual reality
virtual world


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