What is the status of a cat in a virtual reality environment? Is it a real object? Or part of a fiction? Virtual realism, as defended by D. J. Chalmers, takes it to be a virtual object that really exists, that has properties and is involved in real events. His preferred specification of virtual realism identifies the cat with a digital object. The project of this paper is to use a comparison between virtual reality environments and scientific computer simulations to (...) critically engage with Chalmers’s position. I first argue that, if it is sound, his virtual realism should also be applied to objects that figure in scientific computer simulations, e.g. to simulated galaxies. This leads to a slippery slope because it implies an unreasonable proliferation of digital objects. A philosophical analysis of scientific computer simulations suggests an alternative picture: The cat and the galaxies are parts of fictional models for which the computer provides model descriptions. This result motivates a deeper analysis of the way in which Chalmers builds up his realism. I argue that he buys realism too cheap. For instance, he does not really specify what virtual objects are supposed to be. As a result, rhetoric aside, his virtual realism isn’t far from a sort of fictionalism. (shrink)
Can there be a moral philosophy which combines Christianity and consequentialism? John Stuart Mill himself claimed that these positions were, at the least, not mutually exclusive, and quite possibly even congenial to one another; and some recent work by Christian philosophers in America has resurrected this claim. But there is a simple argument to show that consequentialism and orthodox Christianity are not so much as jointly assertible.
Theophrasti Characteres recensuit Hermannus Diels. Oxford Classical Texts. 1909. 3s. 6d. net. Pp. xxviii + .Θεοφρστου Xαρακτxs22EFρες. The Characters of Theophrastus. An English Translation from a Revised Text. With Introduction and Notes by R. C. Jebb, M.A. A new edition. Edited by J. E. Sandys, Litt.D. Macmillan. 1909. 7s. 6d. net. c. 23×14½. Pp. xvi+229.
In the present state of philosophy in the English-speaking world, to choose to talk about sense data may seem perverse. What could be more boring for one's audience than to attempt variations on so threadbare a theme? And worse, what could be more unfashionable in the aftermath of Wittgenstein and Austin? My reasons for selecting this unpromising topic are twofold. First, the general theme of this series of lectures is empiricism. And whatever meanings we put upon that ambiguous word, it (...) is clear that as a matter of history the problems of perception have been important problems for nearly all those philosophers who would consider themselves to be empiricists. And however unsatisfactory sense datum theories of perception may now be held to be, such theories have been central to the empiricist tradition. Secondly, it is important not to be too much impressed by the fact that a particular philosophical opinion is fashionable or unfashionable. The former certainly does not guarantee its truth nor the latter its falsity. It has often been remarked that philosophical opinions are very rarely refuted. Instead they fall out of vogue only to return some years later in another guise. It is perhaps time to take another look at the notion of sense data. The most ingenious and persistent attacks on analyses of perception in terms of sense data have been at best indecisive, as Professor Ayer showed in his reply to Austin's Sense and Sensibilia. (shrink)