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A Humean approach to assessing the moral significance of ultra-violent video games

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Although the word empathy only recently came into existence, eighteenth century philosopher, David Hume, significantly contributed to our current understanding of the term. Hume was among the first to suggest that an empathic mechanism is the central means by which we make ethical judgments and glean moral knowledge. In this paper, I explore Hume’s moral sentimentalism, and I argue that his conception of empathy provides a surprisingly apposite framework for interpreting and addressing a current issue in practical ethics: the moral significance of ultra-violent video games. Ultimately, I attempt to show that a Humean account of morality uniquely explains the dangers of ultra-violent video gaming by elucidating a direct connection between playing such games and moral harm.

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I would like to thank Michael S. Pritchard, Patrick Hennessey, and two anonymous reviewers from Ethics and Information Technology for their valuable and instructive comments. Of course, I alone am responsible for remaining mistakes and oversights.

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Correspondence to Monique Wonderly.

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Wonderly, M. A Humean approach to assessing the moral significance of ultra-violent video games. Ethics Inf Technol 10, 1–10 (2008).

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