Simulated Killing

Simulated Killing: Definition and Types

  • Simulated killing refers to the artificial recreation of killing acts, typically within the contexts of video games, films, or other forms of media.
  • Common mediums of simulated killing include video games (e.g., shooter games, or war-themed games), movies, virtual reality experiences, and role-playing games.
  • Simulated killings can vary significantly in their realism, ranging from highly stylised and cartoon-like killings to more realistic and graphic depictions.

Moral Debates Surrounding Simulated Killing

  • A significant point of contention centres around whether engaging in simulated killing desensitises individuals to real-world violence, and whether this could encourage violent behaviour in real-life.
  • Some argue that simulated killing can be used as a form of catharsis, allowing individuals to vent any violent tendencies in a safe, controlled environment.
  • Critics assert that simulating killing might be seen as trivialising the act of taking a life, undermining the value we place on human lives.

Relation to Key Moral Philosophy Concepts

  • Considerations around simulated killing touch on the consequentialist moral philosophy, focusing on the potential results of actions (like potential desensitisation or increase in violent behaviour).
  • It also involves deontological perspectives, which consider the inherent rightness or wrongness of an action – in this case, whether the act of representing killing, irrespective of results, is ethically acceptable.
  • Utilitarian perspectives might evaluate whether the pleasure derived from such activities outweighs any potential societal harm.

Relevant Ethicists and Theories

  • Immanuel Kant, a prominent deontologist, would likely argue simulated killing is inherently wrong as it involves treating human beings merely as means to our ends (even if those humans are simulated).
  • In contrast, John Stuart Mill, a consequentialist, might focus on the outcome of the act: if simulated killing leads to greater happiness overall (by providing entertainment, stress-relief, etc), it could be seen as morally acceptable.
  • Some virtue ethicists, following Aristotle’s emphasis on character, might argue that engaging in simulated killing promotes vices, like aggression or insensitivity.

Real-life Implications

  • Discussions about simulated killing impact media regulation policies, influencing age-ratings and content warnings for games and movies.
  • These debates also play a part in shaping societal attitudes towards violence, influencing our consumption choices in terms of the media we interact with.