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Scott Woodcock

Abstract

Much has been written about the puzzling aesthetic appeal of horror films that include scenes of brutal, graphic violence.  More recently, however, some philosophers have proposed that viewing certain horror films as a source of entertainment is morally problematic because of the impact they might have on our moral psychology.  By contrast, Ian Stoner argues that viewing fictional depictions of violence in horror films is not morally problematic because horror films do not present violence in ways that risk damaging the kinds of reactive attitudes required to exhibit a well-functioning moral psychology.  In this paper I note some the ways in which Stoner is correct about horror films, yet I argue that he has overstated his case for the permissibility of viewing all instances of horrific violence as entertainment.

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