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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

There are many murderer protagonists in recent American television series. Rape, however, is most often used to mark a character as clearly villainous—and more so than a murderer. This chapter argues that rape is morally disgusting. Nonetheless, in real life laws rape is not in the same way marked as being worse than murder. This chapter suggests that the explanation for this asymmetry between fiction and real-life moral psychology is that we as spectators rely more heavily on moral emotions when engaging in fiction, and that rape is emotionally disturbing in a way that murder need not be. Our attitude towards the rapist as repulsive becomes more evident when we engage in fiction. This points to a difference between the morality activated by fiction and the morality activated by real-life events.

Keywords: moral psychology, fiction, rape, moral disgust, American television series

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