CfP: Kill Switch - The Ethics of Simulation (Deadline September 15th 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Munich Ethics Referral Centre (Munich University)

A One-Day Conference at the Munich Ethics Referral Centre (MKE)
November 25, 2011

How can one adequately address the ethics of a video game player's actions? There is a field of rapidly growing importance in ethics that has not yet been mapped sufficiently, a whole category of acts that has not yet been the focus of ethical theory, acts that are neither actually performed nor merely contemplated: simulated acts. Ethical theory has spent considerable energy investigating performed or contemplated actions, with some of the major ethical theories like consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics divided along these lines. Even the ethical interest in (passively) contemplated acts has recently increased with the rise of ethical criticism in literary studies. But our culture today is increasingly influenced by advanced systems of simulation that provide their users with a sense of agency that is as interesting as it is problematic for ethics. The heated public debates about the potential for unethical behaviour in video games is a testimony both to the cultural relevance and the deficient theoretization of the topic.
This conference wants to approach the question of how ethics can adequately deal with the special status of simulated acts. As such it will hopefully be groundbreaking in addressing a hitherto virtually uncharted field for both ethical theory and game studies that cannot be ignored but that has been, so far, only very insufficiently discussed. Differing and opposing positions on this topic will hopefully provide the basis for fruitful discussions.

Possible topics to be addressed are, but are not limited to:
- The player as moral agent
- Agency, simulation and ethics
- Fictionality, simulation and ethics
- Karma meters and notoriety systems: Video games as moral judges
- Schie├čbefehl: Ethical responsibility distribution between player and game designer
- Ethical aspects of multi-player simulations
- Digital (In)Justice: The impossibility of poetic justice in simulations
- Video games and moral didactics

Please send an abstract of 200-300 words to Dr. Sebastian Domsch ( by September 15, 2011. The results of the conference will be considered for publication through the MKE's own book series.