13th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Podschwadek

Frodo Podschwadek

How Playing Violent Video Games Can Make Us Better Citizens

Political philosophers from a liberal democratic tradition tend to emphasise that education plays a particular role when it comes to shaping politically relevant moral attitudes of future citizens. In a society characterised by pluralism citizens do not only have to know about their civic rights and the ways the political institutions of their society work. When people hold a diversity of views about what the worth and meaning of life are, they will also have to develop a range of political virtues that make them good liberal democratic citizens, such as tolerance, respect for others, and understanding their fellow citizens as free and equal. These moral dispositions can be acquired and refined in many ways. It is possible to teach children political values in school to a certain extent, but many opportunities to develop and refine this kind of virtues are waiting beyond formal education. In the same way people pick up a lot of facts about the world outside of institutionalised contexts of learning (including facts on political topics) they can develop or maintain moral dispositions in informal contexts that count as valuable from the view of the political philosopher. Works of literary, and recently also of cinematic, art are said to offer opportunities of moral learning which to my understanding also includes matters of political morality. Based on these premises I want to argue that video games, even violent ones which have been classified as morally problematic by some philosophers, can contribute to the political virtuousness of citizens. Furthermore, I will argue that they contribute to a authentic and autonomous life of citizens, something which perfectionist and anti-perfectionist liberals alike should appreciate.