Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 309–324 | Cite as

Horror Films and the Argument from Reactive Attitudes



Are horror films immoral? Gianluca Di Muzio argues that horror films of a certain kind are immoral because they undermine the reactive attitudes that are responsible for human agents being disposed to respond compassionately to instances of victimization. I begin with this argument as one instance of what I call the Argument from Reactive Attitudes (ARA), and I argue that Di Muzio’s attempt to identify what is morally suspect about horror films must be revised to provide the most persuasive interpretation of the ARA. I then argue that the ARA provides a compelling standard for evaluating the moral permissibility of creating and viewing horror films, yet I note that it is an exceedingly difficult practical task evaluating the risk that these films create for our reactive attitudes. My conclusion is that the ARA provides a useful way or orienting ourselves to the complicated details of evaluating the moral status of horror films.


Applied ethics Horror films Reactive attitudes 



I would like to thank Jason Anderson, Michael Anthony, James Billingsley, Margaret Cameron, Anjan Chakravartty, Sam Cowling, Scott Howard, Klaus Jahn, Leonard Kahn, Colin Macleod, Cameron Potter and James Young for comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of VictoriaVictoriaCanada

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