Volume 23, Issue 2, Fall 2009
Moral Judgments, Fantasies, and Virtual Worlds
Some argue that moral judgments apply to fantasies because they can lead to action. Others argue that we should not assume that fantasies will lead to action and should not judge them morally unless they do. Still others argue that evaluating fantasies through their possible connections to action is misguided since fantasies contribute to our characters. I argue for the liberal position that fantasies that do not contribute causally to immoral acts are not subject to moral judgments. I make that argument by, first, distinguishing several categories of clear fantasies and demonstrating why the liberal position is correct for each. Then, I examine a recent development that blurs the fantasy/reality distinction: virtual worlds such as Second Life, an on-line, interactive environment in which millions of users worldwide create virtual identities and lives. Some of the activities of these users create an interesting challenge for the liberal position.