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Upcoming Virtual Science Pub Will Explore Moral Decision Making in Virtual Reality

By Dan Campbell

Virtual-reality experiences have become a normal part of our everyday lives. Researchers are able to study situations that have moral components and how they are brought into the decision-making process.

Old Dominion University's next Science Pub will explore this issue. "Murder on the VR Express" is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 18. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Folks are asked to register by March 17, and they will be emailed a Zoom link.

Andrew Kissel, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies, and Krzysztof Rechowicz, research assistant professor and lead project scientist at the Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC), will share their recent work building a VR experience based on the "Trolley Problem" moral dilemma.

They will also discuss how their research is conducted in a VR setting and the potential implications on ethics policies in areas like self-driving cars.

"We often view moral decision-making as a private matter stemming from our values," Kissel said. "Yet when faced with actual moral decisions, people are often confronted with 'moral dumbfounding,' where they are unable to act on or articulate their moral values."

Attendees will also have a chance to try out the VR environment used by the presenters and be able to contribute to ongoing research.

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