The ethical status of virtual avatars in absolutist moral theories
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Virtual avatars are non-real and mindless, yet they can represent people and sometimes fictional characters. In a highly immersive world where virtual worlds and virtual reality have become ubiquitous among people, what new ethical problems will emerge alongside the unhindered use of virtual avatars? Moral absolutist theories represent a rather extreme view of morality, at the same time they are also commonly considered to be traditional, especially when compared against more flexible consequentialist moral theories. This paper will explore how traditional absolutist moral theories such as Kantian Deontology and Divine Command Theory perform in explaining these new ethical problems. Through this, it shall be argued that such moral absolutist theories lack in explanatory strength when dealing with certain ethical problems. In addition, this paper will attempt to show that these deficiencies can be rather easily rectified by treating virtual avatars as moral patients. However, due to this proposition being fundamentally conflicted with these moral absolutist theories, these problems prove to be unsolvable.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University