This paper is about the question of whether or not virtual rape should be considered a crime under current law. A virtual rape is the rape of an avatar (a person’s virtual representation) in a virtual world. In the future, possibilities for virtual rape of a person him- or herself will arise in virtual reality environments involving a haptic device or robotics. As the title indicates, I will study both these present and future instances of virtual rape in light of three categories of legal philosophical theories on rape in order to answer the aforementioned question. I will argue that a virtual rape in a future virtual reality environment involving a haptic device or robotics should in principle count as the crime of rape; for it corresponds to rape as it is viewed under the liberal theories that currently dominate the law. A surprising finding will be that a virtual rape in a virtual world re-actualizes the conservative view of rape that used to dominate the law in the Middle Ages and resembles rape as it is viewed under the feminist theories that criticize current law. Virtual rape in a virtual world cannot count as rape under current law; however, and at the end of this paper, I will suggest qualifying it as sexual harassment instead.
Philosophy & Technology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 7, 2014