The author of this paper discusses the theme of the "simulated body", that is the sense of "being there” in a body that is not one's own, or that does not exist in the way one perceives it. He addresses this issue by comparing Immersive Virtual Reality technology, the phenomenological approach, and Gerald Edelman's theory of Neural Darwinism. Virtual Reality has been used to throw light on some phenomena that cannot be studied experimentally in real life, and the results of (...) its simulations enrich the phenomenological discourse on the lived body. Virtual “Reality” seems to replicate—at least in part—the simulation mechanisms of our mind, thus favoring developments in the field of philosophy of mind. (shrink)
How do we assign values to virtual items, which include virtual objects, properties, events, subjects, worlds, environments, and experiences? In this article, I offer a framework for answering this question. After considering different value theses in the literature, I argue that whether we think these theses mutually exclusive or not turns on our view about the number of value-salient kinds virtual items belong to. Virtual monism is the view that virtual Xs belong to only one value-salient kind in relation to (...) X. Virtual pluralism is the view that they belong to more than one value-salient kind. I argue for two claims. First, virtual monism is mistaken. Minimally some virtual Xs are Xs, while others are not. Second, dualistic virtual pluralism is also mistaken because it is too coarse grained. Instead, I argue for fourfold pluralism: virtual items either represent an original's properties or reproduce essential properties and do so to lesser or greater extents. This gives us four value-salient kinds of virtual X: virtual reproductions, simulations, representations, and simulacra of X. I apply this view to various debates in the literature and conclude with a discussion of less basic hybrid kinds. (shrink)
As much as reality itself, its reflections and appearances have taken a significant place in philosophical discussions. While Plato's Allegory of the Cave is one of the first of these discussions, the philosophy of the virtual shows the final state of these discussions today. The virtual cave is the modern-day version of Plato's cave. Appearances in Plato's cave have their own mode of existence, and likewise, virtual objects in the virtual cave have their own mode of existence. There are many (...) philosophical similarities between the ancient cave and the virtual cave. So much so that, according to the first, the shadows in the cave are a different view of reality, while according to the second, the virtual images in the virtual cave are another view of reality. The philosophy of the ancient cave and virtual cave essentially point to the debates about what the nature of reality is. The ontological and epistemic dimensions of appearance and virtual image lead us to the discussion about the nature and whatness of reality. The most common and advanced virtual cave today is the metaverse. Metaverse consists of virtual communities that combine the reality of the physical world with the reality of the virtual world and are open to all kinds of manipulations. (shrink)
A leading philosopher takes a mind-bending journey through virtual worlds, illuminating the nature of reality and our place within it. Virtual reality is genuine reality; that's the central thesis of Reality+. In a highly original work of "technophilosophy," David J. Chalmers gives a compelling analysis of our technological future. He argues that virtual worlds are not second-class worlds, and that we can live a meaningful life in virtual reality. We may even be in a virtual world already. Along the way, (...) Chalmers conducts a grand tour of big ideas in philosophy and science. He uses virtual reality technology to offer a new perspective on long-established philosophical questions. How do we know that there's an external world? Is there a god? What is the nature of reality? What's the relation between mind and body? How can we lead a good life? All of these questions are illuminated or transformed by Chalmers' mind-bending analysis. Studded with illustrations that bring philosophical issues to life, Reality+ is a major statement that will shape discussion of philosophy, science, and technology for years to come. (shrink)
David Chalmers a récemment soutenu que la réalité virtuelle est réelle, plutôt que fictionnelle. Dans cet article, j’examine les implications ontologiques de ce « réalisme virtuel ». Comme je le suggère, cette position s’associe naturellement à une ontologie algorithmique, qui identifie les objets virtuels à des structures de données comprises de manière fonctionnelle. Je présente ensuite plusieurs objections à cette ontologie algorithmique. Tant que celles-ci ne sont pas réglées, la question de l’identité des mondes et des objets virtuels reste encore (...) en suspens. (shrink)
As David J. Chalmers claims, “virtual reality is a sort of genuine reality, virtual objects are real objects, and what goes on in virtual reality is truly real.” In this paper, I will suggest that the philosophical hypothesis that we might live in a simulation can be considered to be the last and most nihilistic episode in the series of narrations about the true and apparent worlds that Nietzsche sketched in The Twilight of the Idols. I will argue that Nietzsche’s (...) prediction about the obliteration of the apparent world has actually been fulfilled by Chalmers, and I will show why his theory must be considered one of the many fables that humans have been producing in order to organise the world according to their own ends. (shrink)
The conscious experiences we have during sleep have the potential to improve our empathetic response to those who experience delusions and psychosis by supplying a virtual reality simulation of mental illness. Empathy for those with mental illness is lacking and there has been little improvement in the last decades despite efforts made to increase awareness. Our lack of empathy, in this case, may be due to an inability to accurately mentally simulate what it’s like to have a particular cognitive disorder. (...) Dreaming can help mitigate these deficits by placing the dreamer directly into a realistic virtual simulation and thus increase their capacity for empathy. Increasing empathy would go some way towards reducing the stigma and discrimination faced by people in this group. Recent work suggests that virtual reality can increase empathy towards a variety of marginalised groups, however, this technology is limited in its ability to simulate mental illnesses such as delusions. Dreams, however, are at times virtual reality delusion simulators. They can replicate, to a reasonable degree, delusions and psychosis, and through these experiences, we can learn ‘what it’s like’ to have these conditions. It is essential that we recognise these experiences for what they are, attempt to remember and reflect on them. Instead of disregarding dreams due to their unusualness and bizarreness, we can learn from these experiences and expand our understanding of the human condition and its many forms. (shrink)
How does the integration of mixed reality devices into our cognitive practices impact the mind from a metaphysical and epistemological perspective? In his innovative and interdisciplinary article, “Minds in the Metaverse: Extended Cognition Meets Mixed Reality” (2022), Paul Smart addresses this underexplored question, arguing that the use of a hypothetical application of the Microsoft HoloLens called “the HoloFoldit” represents a technologically high-grade form of extended cognizing from the perspective of neo-mechanical philosophy. This short commentary aims to (1) carve up the (...) conceptual landscape of possible objections to Smart’s argument and (2) elaborate on the possibility of hologrammatically extended cognition, which is supposed to be one of the features of the HoloFoldit case that distinguishes it from more primitive forms of cognitive extension. In tackling (1), I do not mean to suggest that Smart does not consider or have sufficient answers to these objections. In addressing (2), the goal is not to argue for or against the possibility of hologrammatically extended cognition but to reveal some issues in the metaphysics of virtual reality upon which this possibility hinges. I construct an argument in favor of hologrammatically extended cognition based on the veracity of virtual realism (Chalmers, 2017) and an argument against it based on the veracity of virtual fctionalism (McDonnell and Wildman, 2019). (shrink)
Objects appear to causally interact with one another in virtual worlds, such as video games, virtual reality, and training simulations. Is this causation real or is it illusory? In this paper I argue that virtual causation is as real as physical causation. I achieve this in two steps: firstly, I show how virtual causation has all the important hallmarks of relations that are causal, as opposed to merely accidental, and secondly, I show how virtual causation is genuine according to one (...) influential metaphysical theory of causation: the mechanistic approach. (shrink)
Information, and, thus, technology (any and every system and-or discipline), depends upon the tokenization (and, thus, the conservation) of a circle (one zero and one one) (one circumference and one diameter). Explaining the human mind, the ‘abstract object,’ and the cryptic universe. Where any (and every) ‘universe’ (think: unit) is totally dependent on the circular-linear relationship between abstract and concrete reality (which is fully accessible (and, thus, only, understandable)) via the Circular Theory diagram (a cryptic, concrete, fully tokenized, abstraction) (for (...) an uber-simple circle). (shrink)
Space joins (and separates) any X and-or Y. X and-or Y is, necessarily, 0 and-or 1. 0 and-or 1 is, necessarily, circumference and-or diameter. Explaining (what humans think of as) gravity (general relativity) (the 'self' in all systems). Thereby, and, therein, explaining the relationship between mind and matter. Integrating philosophy and physics (abstract and concrete reality) (where you need both in order to have either). Thereby, and, therein, explaining everything in psychology (a completely tokenized ‘reality’). You can think of this (...) as philosophical, physical, and psychological fusion (absolute relativity). (shrink)
Technology is answering our deepest questions about ‘reality.’ This is because Nature continually tokenizes an underlying, omnipresent, continually conserved, circular-linear relationship. Thus, zero and one (modern) is yin and yang (ancient) tying modern and ancient ideas about 'reality' together, and proving tokenization produces a cryptic 'reality.' Explaining science, and the 'search' for answers (perpetually).
What’s presented in our normal waking perceptual visual experiences feels present to us, while what we “see” in pictures and imagine does not. What about dreams? Does what we “see” in a dream feel present? Jennifer Windt has argued for an affirmative answer, for all dreams. But the dreams which flow from the brain’s registration of myoclonic twitches present a challenge to this answer. During these dreams motion-guiding vision is shut off, and, as Mohan Matthen has argued, motion-guiding vision seems (...) to be a key mechanism underlying the feeling of presence. I propose that the feeling of presence in fact involves two components: the feeling of immersion, and the feeling of availability for action. I suggest that only the feeling of availability for action derives from motion-guiding vision, and, hence, hypothesize that body-driven dreams lack this component to the feeling of presence. Finally, the distinction between these two varieties of presence has implications for measures of presence in virtual environments, as these measures can diverge over which of the two varieties they track. (shrink)
This paper considers the medium of videogames from a goodmanian standpoint. After some preliminary clarifications and definitions, I examine the ontological status of videogames. Against several existing accounts, I hold that what grounds their identity qua work types is code. The rest of the paper is dedicated to the epistemology of videogaming. Drawing on Nelson Goodman and Catherine Elgin's works, I suggest that the best model to defend videogame cognitivism appeals to the notion of understanding.
How can you steal something that doesn’t exist? This question confronts those of us who take an irrealist view of virtual objects and agree with the Supreme Court of the Netherlands that robbery took place when two boys used non-virtual violence to coerce a third boy into relinquishing his virtual amulet and mask. Here we outline this Puzzle of Virtual Theft, along with the closely related Puzzle of Virtual Value. After demonstrating how these puzzles are deeply problematic for the irrealist, (...) we go on to sketch a solution that not only circumscribes the puzzles but also offers a framework by which legal scholars can make sense within existing legal codes of the new phenomenon of virtual theft. (shrink)
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)
I reply to seven commentaries on “The Virtual and the Real”. In response to Claus Beisbart, Jesper Juul, Peter Ludlow, and Neil McDonnell and Nathan Wildman, I clarify and develop my view that virtual are digital objects, with special attention to the nature of digital objects and data structures. In response to Alyssa Ney and Eric Schwitzgebel, I clarify and defend my spatial functionalism, with special attention to the connections between space and consciousness. In response to Marc Silcox, I clarify (...) and develop my view of the value of virtual worlds, with special attention to the case where we experience these worlds as virtual. (shrink)
Are virtual objects real? I will claim that the question sets us up for the wrong type of conclusion: Chalmers (2017) argues that a virtual calculator (like other entities) is a real calculator when it is “organizationally invariant” with its non-virtual counterpart—when it performs calculation. However, virtual reality and games are defined by the fact that they always selectively implement their source material. Even the most detailed virtual car will still have an infinite range of details which are missing (gas, (...) engines, pistons, fuel, chemical reactions, molecules, atoms). This means that even the most detailed virtual object will still have fictional aspects. Rather than argue that virtual objects are, or aren’t, real, it is preferable to think of overlaps and continuities between the fictional and the real, where even the most painstakingly detailed virtual reality implementation of a non-virtual object is still art: a human process of selection and interpretation. Virtual reality should therefore not be philosophically understood just as a technological implementation on a trajectory to perfection, but as a cultural artifact which derives its value in part from its simplification and difference from its source material. (shrink)
David Chalmers argues that virtual objects exist in the form of data structures that have causal powers. I argue that there is a large class of virtual objects that are social objects and that do not depend upon data structures for their existence. I also argue that data structures are themselves fundamentally social objects. Thus, virtual objects are fundamentally social objects.
Are the objects and events that take place in Virtual Reality genuinely real? Those who answer this question in the affirmative are realists, and those who answer in the negative are irrealists. In this paper we argue against the realist position, as given by Chalmers (2017), and present our own preferred irrealist account of the virtual. We start by disambiguating two potential versions of the realist position—weak and strong— and then go on to argue that neither is plausible. We then (...) introduce a Waltonian variety of ictionalism about the virtual, arguing that this sort of irrealist approach avoids the problems of the realist positions, fits with a unifying theory of representational works, and offers a better account of the phenomenology of engaging in virtual experiences. (shrink)
This paper draws on the notion of the ‘project,’ as developed in the existential philosophy of Heidegger and Sartre, to articulate an understanding of the existential structure of engagement with virtual worlds. By this philosophical understanding, the individual’s orientation towards a project structures a mechanism of self-determination, meaning that the project is understood essentially as the project to make oneself into a certain kind of being. Drawing on existing research from an existential-philosophical perspective on subjectivity in digital game environments, the (...) notion of a ‘virtual subjectivity’ is proposed to refer to the subjective sense of being-in-the-virtual-world. The paper proposes an understanding of virtual subjectivity as standing in a nested relation to the individual’s subjectivity in the actual world, and argues that it is this relation that allows virtual world experience to gain significance in the light of the individual’s projectual existence. The arguments advanced in this paper pave the way for a comprehensive understanding of the transformative, self-transformative, and therapeutic possibilities and advantages afforded by virtual worlds. (shrink)
This paper develops a taxonomy of kinds of actions that can be seen in group agency, human–machine interactions, and virtual realities. These kinds of actions are special in that they are not embodied in the ordinary sense. I begin by analysing the notion of embodiment into three separate assumptions that together comprise what I call the Embodiment View. Although this view may find support in paradigmatic cases of agency, I suggest that each of its assumptions can be relaxed. With each (...) assumption that is given up, a different kind of disembodied action becomes available. The taxonomy gives a systematic overview and suggests that disembodied actions have the same theoretical relevance as the actions of any ordinarily embodied human. (shrink)
I argue that virtual reality is a sort of genuine reality. In particular, I argue for virtual digitalism, on which virtual objects are real digital objects, and against virtual fictionalism, on which virtual objects are fictional objects. I also argue that perception in virtual reality need not be illusory, and that life in virtual worlds can have roughly the same sort of value as life in non-virtual worlds.
The Web, in particular real-time interactions in three-dimensional virtual environments (virtual worlds), comes with a set of unique characteristics that leave our traditional frameworks inapplicable. The present article illustrates this by arguing that the notion of “technology relations,” as put forward by Ihde and Verbeek, becomes inapplicable when it comes to the Internet, and this inapplicability shows why these phenomena require new philosophical frameworks. Against this background, and more constructively, the article proposes a fundamental distinction between “intravirtual” and “extravirtual” consequences—a (...) distinction that allows us to understand and conceptualize real-time interactions online more accurately. By relating this distinction to Searle's notion of “condition of satisfaction,” the article also shows its implications for judging real-time, online interactions in virtual worlds as irrational and/or immoral. The ultimate purpose is to illustrate how new philosophical concepts and frameworks can allow us to better account for the unique characteristics of the Internet. (shrink)
In this paper, I deal with a striking phenomenon that often occurs when we explore the virtual environment of, for example, a video game. Suppose a friend sees me playing a video game and asks ‘Where are you?’ There are two possible answers to this question. I can either refer to my actual location (‘I am in my room’), but I can also refer to my location in the virtual world (‘I am in a space-ship’). Although my friend is probably (...) after this second reply, the first one is not false. At first sight, this gives rise to a tension. On the one hand both claims – ‘I am in my room’ and ‘I am in a space-ship’ – seem true. But on the other hand they also seem mutually exclusive as bilocation, i.e. being in two places at the same time, is impossible. I am either in London or in Paris, in the bathroom or in the kitchen, in a space-ship or in my room. How can I claim to be in two places at once? In the following, I discuss two ways to dissolve this tension:. (shrink)
This article raises the question of how the ontological status of virtual objects bears on their intrinsic value. If virtual objects are unreal or less real than physical objects, does it mean that they will have less intrinsic value? If they have intrinsic value, what are the explanations for this value, and how do they relate to the ontological status of the virtual objects? First, the article reviews recent work concerning the ontological status of virtual reality and virtual objects. Second, (...) it argues that in some cases the ontological status of virtual objects does undermine the value placed in them, in that the objects can fail to have the properties that ground the value attributions made to them, while in other cases their ontological status is not important. Finally, the article relates the grounding of value attributions to philosophical theories of value, in particular, perfectionism and hedonism. (shrink)
The Matrix presents a version of an old philosophical fable: the brain in a vat. A disembodied brain is floating in a vat, inside a scientist’s laboratory. The scientist has arranged that the brain will be stimulated with the same sort of inputs that a normal embodied brain receives. To do this, the brain is connected to a giant computer simulation of a world. The simulation determines which inputs the brain receives. When the brain produces outputs, these are fed back (...) into the simulation. The internal state of the brain is just like that of a normal brain, despite the fact that it lacks a body. From the brain’s point of view, things seem very much as they seem to you and me. (shrink)
This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is (...) false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed. (shrink)
I argue that at least one of the following propositions is true: the human species is very likely to become extinct before reaching a ’posthuman’ stage; any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of its evolutionary history ; we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we shall one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living (...) in a simulation. I discuss some consequences of this result. (shrink)
Virtual Realism is an art form and a way of living with technology. To explain it, Michael Heim draws on a hypertext of topics, from answering machines to interactive art, from engineering to television programs, from the meaning of UFOs to the Internet. The book begins with the primer 'VR 101'. The issues are discussed, then several chapters illustrate virtual realism with tours through art exhibits and engineering projects. Each chapter suggests a harmony of technology with lifestyle.