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We Should Not Consume the Art of Immoral Artists A Test for How to Avoid Benefitting Bad People By Iain Carlos

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he old and new allegations of sexual abuse faced by singer-songwriter R. Kelly push us to answer the question: Is it moral to consume the art of moral transgressors? I think the answer to this question is dependent upon three factors: 1. Will the consumption of the unethical artist’s product sustain this artist, financially or otherwise? 2. Will the consumption of this art alter the consumer in a way such that they will be harmed or more likely to commit misdeeds? 3. Will agents at large be made more likely to commit misdeeds if this art is consumed? If the answer to all of these questions is no, then, I argue, the product is morally permissible to consume. If the answer to even one of them is yes, then, I argue, the product is not morally permissible to consume. A good place to start is the concrete example of R. Kelly. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that R. Kelly is guilty of sexual abuse and is not the victim of some kind of terrible conspiracy. Let’s also assume that, given the liberty, R. Kelly would commit sexual abuse again, and has not

and will not suddenly rid himself of this inclination. On these assumptions, it would seem that it is immoral to consume the art of R. Kelly in such a way that would sustain him. I say this because for every R. Kelly song we stream or album we purchase, we extend his ability to do further harm. The revenue earned from our consumption

for every R. Kelly song we stream or album we purchase, we extend his ability to do further harm. of his art would aid R. Kelly in paying for competent lawyers in order to avoid incarceration, function as hush-money for his victims, and aid in his future endeavors of sexual abuse. My reader might be inclined to ask if it would then be morally permissible, or perhaps even good, to pirate R. Kelly’s music, as pirating is a form of consumption that would not provide R. Kelly with compensation. I’m inclined to say no. I say this because we generally assume that it is wrong to steal, although the intricacies of such an assumption are beyond the scope of this paper. 29

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Spring 2019  

We proudly present our first issue! The topics include abortion, the Iran deal, voter ID laws, targeted killings by governments, Hamilton: A...

Spring 2019  

We proudly present our first issue! The topics include abortion, the Iran deal, voter ID laws, targeted killings by governments, Hamilton: A...

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