New Philosophy Compass Issue, June 2011

The latest issue of Philosophy Compass is available on Wiley Online Library

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Aesthetics & Philosophy of Art:

Drawing the Line: Art Versus Pornography (pages 385–397)
Hans Maes

Chinese Comparative Philosophy:

Caring in Confucian Philosophy (pages 374–384)
Ann A. Pang-White

History of Philosophy:

Locke on Personal Identity (pages 398–407)
Shelley Weinberg

Legal & Political:

Constitutional Interpretation: Non-originalism (pages 408–420)
Mitchell N. Berman

Philosophy of Science:

Mechanistic Theories of Causality Part I (pages 421–432)
Jon Williamson

Mechanistic Theories of Causality Part II (pages 433–444)
Jon Williamson

Teaching & Learning Guide:

Teaching & Learning Guide for: Mechanistic Theories of Causality (pages 445–447)
Jon Williamson

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What have sex and violence done for us, lately?

Much fretting about violence in video games is rooted in the worry that the games will foster violence in the real world.  (If I shoot enough extra-terrestrials in “Space Invaders,” I might end up shooting extra-terrestrials in real life.)

Earlier this week on the NYT’s Economix blog, David Leonhardt speculated that, in fact, violent video games might be partly responsible for the level or declining rates of violent crime during the current recession.  He cites earlier research suggesting that violent movies reduce violent crime.

Ryan Sanger recently discussed similar dynamics in the realm of pornography:  increased access to porn seems to correlate with reduced frequency of rape.  As Sanger notes, the implications for the debate over simulated child pornography could be especially controversial.

None of the research is anywhere near decisive.  But if it turns out that porn and media violence have positive social consequences, the rubber will meet the road on the issue of government regulation of content.  We’ll be in a situation in which the utilitarian justification of a set of related laws changes its valence.  It’ll be interesting to see the debate unfold.

Related articles:

The Duty to Obey the Law
By David Lefkowitz, UNC Greensboro (October 2006)
Philosophy Compass