The Morals of Virtual Worlds



To begin a discussion on Virtual Reality, one must first discuss exactly how real this product intends to be. The Virtual Reality Machine (hereafter called VRM) for all intents and purposes will simulate reality nearly perfectly. The VRM will grant full sensory input and output, including pain, sweat and blood. The first order of business after establishing that is to begin with the morality of just man versus computer. Lastly, one must begin the most exhaustive part of the discussion about the morality when two or more people interact with each other.
I would like to begin with the moral issues posed by the VRM in a simulated environment where there is nothing but the machine and one user. Let us say that the user killed a computer representation of another human being. Did he commit murder? I think not. Most people would agree that, though violent or perverted, anything done by a person to a computer generated image bears no moral responsibility at all. That is because it is all just a game, no one is hurt, and no one receives any pain or pleasure from any act. But that is not the case when people interact on the VRM.
When two or more people begin to interact on the VRM, that is when moral questions begin to take hold. I am going to begin with a question that seems to be prevailing at this time, when a married person has sex on the VRM is that person committing adultery? Well first let us define a sexual act. According to our esteemed President William Clinton, a sexual act is an act that is done by one person to another for the gratification of the second party. Clearly that means that when someone gives sexual pleasure of any kind to another, that is a sexual act, correct?
Now, let us say that man X is married to woman Y. Man X and woman Y purchase the VRM for their home use. If man X goes on to that machine and has sex with a computer generated woman, we have established that such an act bears no moral responsibility. But, is man X goes online and meets woman Z, and begins having sexual intercourse with her, is that then adultery? First let us examine the facts, man X and woman Z have never met, have never even touched one another. But both have felt the pleasure that derives from sex. According to our earlier definition, they caused mutual pleasure to one another, so they committed sexual acts, correct? But, if one considers that they never really did meet or physically interact, did they then commit adultery?
There are some that would like to argue that because they never PHYSICALLY interacted ( I am certain Mr. Clinton would agree) then no immoral act was committed. But I believe these people are not looking at the entire picture. They are missing out on the fact that while no PHYSICAL interaction took place, a exchange of pleasure did, thereby being a sexual act and adultery. I would like to believe that such an act is adultery and the proper course of action be taken against man X and woman Z.
I have one final question to put forth. This one was a topic of heated discussion with my friends one evening. Although I still cannot give an answer to this I would like to present it for your pleasure. The question that I set forth to my peers was "If a man has sex with another human man in the VRM, is that person a homosexual?" This question was followed by two general arguments. One was that, yes that man is a homosexual because he willingly committed the act with another man. The other argument was that, well if it is not real, therefore it cannot TRULY be a homosexual act because that person never really committed those acts and never "Got poked in the butt" as one of my friends put it. I personally never resolved this argument with myself, but I wanted to present it for the sheer reason that it would be heard and argued among real scholars, not rank amateurs like ourselves. If you really want to