This book offers new ways of thinking about and assessing the impact of virtual reality on its users. It argues that we must go beyond traditional psychological concepts of VR "presence" to better understand the many varieties of virtual experiences.
The author provides compelling evidence that VR simulations are capable of producing "virtually real" experiences in people. He also provides a framework for understanding when and how simulations induce virtually real experiences. From these insights, the book shows that virtually real experiences are responsible for several unaddressed ethical issues in VR research and design. Experimental philosophers, moral psychologists, and institutional review boards must become sensitive to the ethical issues involved between designing "realistic" virtual dilemmas, for good data collection, and avoiding virtually real trauma. Ethicists and game designers must do more to ensure that their simulations don’t inculcate harmful character traits. Virtually real experiences, the author claims, can make virtual relationships meaningful, productive, and conducive to welfare but they can also be used to systematically mislead and manipulate users about the nature of their experiences.
The Ethics of Virtual and Augmented Reality will appeal to philosophers working in applied ethics, philosophy of technology, and aesthetics, as well as researchers and students interested in game studies and game design.
Table of Contents
1. Exploring Strange New Worlds
2. Imagination and the Limits of Empathy
3. When Being There is Not Enough
4. Virtual Experience, Real Harm
5. Why It's Unethical to Use VR and AR as "Empathy" Machines
6. Putting It All Together: A Code of Ethics for VR/AR
7. AR and the Future of Selves
Erick Jose Ramirez is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Santa Clara University, USA.