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Title: Virtue and Video Games: False Pleasure in the Digital Age
Contributor(s): Humphreys, Declan James (author); Walsh, Adrian  (supervisor)orcid ; McLean, Lesley  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2018-10-27
Copyright Date: 2017-10-05
Open Access: Yes
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Abstract: This thesis examines video games as objects of pleasure and assesses the negative claim that certain video games can detract from the good life. It argues against the claim that all video games are 'wastes of time' or that they provide a kind of false pleasure, while recognising the heterogeneous nature of modern video games. To do so, this work focuses on the pleasure derived from these objects. It questions the nature of pleasure itself arguing that while some pleasures are essential for the good life, other pleasures can be detrimental to its pursuit. It argues that certain pleasures that detract from the good life can be considered false pleasures. Drawing on an analysis of the writings of Plato and Aristotle, this work proposes an original taxonomy of false pleasure. The taxonomy proposes four broad categories of false pleasure, they are: false pleasure of belief, false pleasure of experience, false pleasure of negative consequence, and false immoral pleasures. These categories are applied to video games to discover whether certain video games provide false pleasure. It is argued that while some video games in certain circumstances can be considered false pleasures, it does not hold that all video games are false pleasures.
This thesis also questions the broader role mass media and technology has on the experience of pleasure in the modern world. It draws upon the writings of the Frankfurt School theorist who provided arguments critical of modern mass culture. I argue that these theorists considered mass media to systematically mislead individuals into making mistakes regarding pleasure and that these mistakes serve a political and social function. It is argued that the Frankfurt School critiques provide useful examples of the political and social function of false pleasure. However, it is shown that the some of their concerns are not new, rather they echo the concerns of Plato and Aristotle and can be accommodated within the proposed taxonomy of false pleasure.
This work concludes that the notion of false pleasure is important when considering what makes the good life. However, the argument that all video games are false pleasures does not stand up to philosophical rigour. Moreover, it is shown that some video games, rather than being impediments to the good life, have a beneficial role to play in its pursuit.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research (FoR): 220305 Ethical Theory
220103 Ethical Use of New Technology (e.g. Nanotechnology, Biotechnology)
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 970110 Expanding Knowledge in Technology
890499 Media Services not elsewhere classified
970122 Expanding Knowledge in Philosophy and Religious Studies
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
Appears in Collections:School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
Thesis Doctoral

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