Meta-ethical Issues

These debates turn largely on utilitarian arguments in favor of sexbots vis-à-vis deontological and virtue ethics arguments against them, at

least in limited degree (good sex but not complete sex), if not absolutely (Richardson’s campaign to stop sexbots entirely).

How far, then, is this actually a debate? That is, from a meta-ethical perspective, the primary opponents – Levy and Richardson – are, in effect, playing by different ethical rules. In a certain way, this means that they are talking past one another. To use an analogy, it’s as if one is arguing from the rules of rugby, while the other is arguing from the rules of American baseball.

What to do about this meta-ethical problem? Minimally, it requires us – you – to determine which of these ethical frameworks is more compelling and foundational.

Some initial questions may help here:

Where do those previous responses lead you with regard to these debates?

Are you still comfortable with your previous choices?

And/or: do your previous preferences – whether for utilitarianism, deontology, and/or virtue ethics – lead to positions and conclusions here that you do not find yourself in agreement with?

In the latter case, what do you do with the apparent inconsistencies at these meta-ethical levels?

(Hint: you may have to change your mind …)

Now: What about games? As with the development and diffusion of all sorts of pornographies via digital media, so computer-based games have likewise dramatically evolved and developed over the past three decades. The range of games is staggering: while popular press reports (still) tend to focus – because of their intense violence – on so-called first-person shooter (FPS) games and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) such as Dota2, a descendant of the classic World of Warcraft – the world of computer-based games runs the gamut from dance and exercise games to serious or educational games designed to achieve specific learning outcomes. The diffusion of games, as with the diffusion of pornography*, has of course followed the diffusion of mobile devices. The number of games available just for mobile phones is sufficiently extensive and constantly changing as to constantly require new guides – for example, to the top ten this week. … Along the way, games and, again – in parallel with the pattern for pornography* – game studies have grown from a relatively small field in the early 2000s to an increasingly prominent and distributed interdisciplinary set of academic fields, replete with dedicated institutes, research centers, and a growing number of relevant journals. The world of professional gaming has likewise developed remarkably over the past two decades, now encompassing multiple leagues, professional teams with respectable salaries (as well as health benefits and retirement plans) – so much so that “competitive gaming is starting to look a lot like professional sports”. All this attests to the increasing cultural roles and importance of digital games. (At the same time, it can be noted – another marker of a post-digital era – that good old fashioned board games have also been making a rather remarkable come-back: for example, in 2016, sales in the US grew by 28 percent

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