'Virtual' Morality: The Un/Acceptability of Hypothetical Scenarios in Second Life

Katleen Gabriels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference paper


As part of a larger study on the basis and meanings of moral values and practices in 3D social virtual worlds, we conduct in-depth face-to-face interviews with experienced Second Life (SL) residents to reflect on in-world morally charged scenarios. Our research goal is to gain understanding in how residents make sense of virtual moral practices and what they believe is un/acceptable in-world moral behaviour. To this aim, research participants are asked to rank twenty-eight hypothetical SL-scenarios in a classification from '(most) unacceptable' to '(most) acceptable' and, while doing so, to reason out loud about their ranking. In our analysis, we focus on research participants' converging and diverging arguments on the un/acceptability of the scenarios. Regarding converging arguments, there is consensus on the unacceptability of six scenarios. Research participants believe these scenarios are equally problematic in virtuality and in actuality. Furthermore, they agree on seven scenarios as acceptable. These scenarios are not considered as morally charged because they are typical features of SL and hence rooted in technology. Regarding other scenarios, no general consensus was reached. Our findings have ethical implications, especially with regard to moral responsibility.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the SLACTIONS 2012 research conference on virtual worlds: life, imagination and work using metaverse platforms
EditorsL. Morgado, Y. Sivan, A. Maia, G. Matos, Ricardo R. Nunes, D. Pedrosa, F. Marques, M. Fraga, V. Loureiro
Place of Publicationila Real, Portugal
PublisherUniversidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-989-704-102-0
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventSLACTIONS 2012 research conference on virtual worlds - , Portugal
Duration: 15 Nov 201217 Nov 2012


ConferenceSLACTIONS 2012 research conference on virtual worlds


  • Moral Imagination
  • Moral Reasoning
  • Applied Philosophy
  • Virtual Morality
  • Social Virtual Worlds
  • Second Life


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