Virtual rape, real dignity: Meta-ethics for virtual worlds

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter explores what ought to be the ethics that guide the conduct of people participating in virtual worlds in their roles as designers, administrators and players or avatars. Using Alan Gewirth's argument for the Principle of Generic Consistency (Reason and Morality, 1978) and an expanded argument for the PGC (Ethics Within Reason: A Neo-Gewirthian Approach, Spence 2006), the chapter will demonstrate that avatars as virtual representations of real people (at least with regard to some virtual worlds in which the virtual agency of the avatar can be considered an extension of the agency of the person instantiating the avatar in the real world) can and must be perceived as virtual purposive agents that have moral rights and obligations similar to those of their real counterparts. With regard to agency those rights are merely prima facie but with regard to personhood framed around the notion of self-respect those rights are absolute. Finally, the chapter will show how the rules of virtual worlds as instantiated by the designers' code and the administrators' end-user license agreement (EULA), must always be consistent with and comply with the requirements of universal morality as established on the basis of the Principle of generic Consistency (PGC). When the two come into conflict, the PGC, as the supreme principle of morality, is always overriding.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe philosophy of computer games
EditorsJohn Richard Sageng, Hallvard Fossheim, Tarjei Mandt Larsen
Place of PublicationGermany
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9789400742499
ISBN (Print)9789400742482
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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