The Real, the Virtual, and the Moral: Ethics at the Intersection of Consciousness

Thomas H. Bivins and Julianne H. Newton, Journal of Mass Media Ethics: Exploring Questions of Media Morality, 2003, 18, 3, 213-229.

Abstract: The promise of virtual reality is that it may eventually lead us to a “third state of consciousness” transcending the objective reality of our embodied beings and opening up to us a world of expanded realization. However, the recurring themes of our hero myths, both religious and secular, remind us of the importance of remaining grounded in the real world of embodied people and phenomenal perception. Advances in neuroscience even suggest that unconscious processing of perceptual stimuli may guide our behaviors. Thus, the journey from the phenomenal to the noumenal is a round-trip ticket. We take with us the strength of our moral convictions to serve us on our journey and bring back the spiritual expansion that always comes of travel.