What We Owe to Ourselves and Avatars (with Daniel Muñoz)

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Philosopher Daniel Muñoz begins his "Wronging Oneself" with the following anecdote:

"Earlier today, without asking permission, I took a bike belonging to someone in my neighborhood and rode it to work. I later noticed that this same person, who works in my office, was looking tired. So I pinched their arm, opened their mouth, and poured hot coffee inside. As if that weren’t enough, I took some cash from their wallet to buy my lunch, and I even spent my break thumbing through their private emails.

Before you reach for any moral sanctions: this 'neighbor' of mine was me."

The question of whether we owe anything to ourselves is surprisingly controversial in philosophy because it seems as though we stand in a different relationship to ourselves than we do to other people. It also has potentially interesting implications for ethics in video games: fictionally, what do we, as players, owe to avatars—those characters whose actions we determine, through whose eyes we see the worlds of video games?

In this week's episode, Aaron sits down with Daniel Muñoz, a moral philosopher and one of Aaron's mentors and friends, to discuss the many insights that philosophy, ethics, and video-game storytelling have for one another—including how these analytical tool kits may open the way to an understanding of The Last of Us Part II that others have missed.

Later, in a side quest, Stefan shares a new article by Sky LaRell Anderson and Karen Schrier analyzing the concept of accessibility in video games, as well as the ways in which game design and game journalism approach disabilities in gaming.

(Spoiler warning for The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II.)

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