86 – Are Video Games Immoral?

Have you ever played Hitman? Grand Theft Auto? Call of Duty? Did you ever question the moral propriety of what you did in those games? In this episode I talk to Sebastian Ostritsch about the ethics of video games. Sebastian is an Assistant Prof. (well, technically, he is a Wissenschaftlicher mitarbeiter but it’s like an Assistant Prof) of Philosophy based at Stuttgart University in Germany. He has the rare distinction of being both an expert in Hegel and the ethics of computer games. He is the author of Hegel: Der Welt-Philosoph (published this year in German) and is currently running a project, funded by the German research body DFG, on the ethics of computer games.

You can download the episode here or listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple PodcastsStitcherSpotify and other podcasting services (the RSS feed is here).

Show Notes

Topics discussed include:

  • The nature of video games
  • The problem of seemingly immoral video game content
  • The amorality thesis: the view that playing video games is morally neutral
  • Defences of the amorality thesis: it’s not real and it’s just a game.
  • Problems with the ‘it’s not real’ and ‘it’s just a game’ arguments.
  • The Gamer’s Dilemma: Why do people seem to accept virtual murder but not, say, virtual paedophilia?
  • Resolving the gamer’s dilemma
  • The endorsement view of video game morality: some video games might be immoral if they endorse an immoral worldview
  • How these ideas apply to other forms of fictional media, e.g. books and movies.

Relevant Links


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