Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp 191-198

First online:

Real wrongs in virtual communities

  • Thomas M. Powers

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Beginning with the well-knowncyber-rape in LambdaMOO, I argue that it ispossible to have real moral wrongs in virtualcommunities. I then generalize the account toshow how it applies to interactions in gamingand discussion communities. My account issupported by a view of moral realism thatacknowledges entities like intentions andcausal properties of actions. Austin's speechact theory is used to show that real people canact in virtual communities in ways that bothestablish practices and moral expectations, andwarrant strong identifications betweenthemselves and their online identities. Rawls'conception of a social practice is used toanalyze the nature of the wrong and thestage-setting aspect of engaging in a practice.

Austin LambdaMOO moral realism Rawls speech act theory virtual communities