In Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology

By what empirical means can a person determine whether he or she is presently awake or dreaming? Any conceivable test addressing this question, which is a special case of the classical metaphysical doubting of reality, must be statistical (for the same reason that empirical science is, as noted by Hume). Subjecting the experienced reality to any kind of statistical test (for instance, a test for bizarreness) requires, however, that a set of baseline measurements be available. In a dream, or in a simulation, any such baseline data would be vulnerable to tampering by the same processes that give rise to the experienced reality, making the outcome of a reality test impossible to trust. Moreover, standard cryptographic defenses against such tampering cannot be relied upon, because of the potentially unlimited reach of reality modification within a dream, which may range from the integrity of the verification keys to the declared outcome of the entire process. In the face of this double predicament, the rational course of action is to take reality at face value. The predicament also has some intriguing corollaries. In particular, even the most revealing insight that a person may gain into the ultimate nature of reality (for instance, by attaining enlightenment in the Buddhist sense) is ultimately unreliable, for the reasons just mentioned. At the same time, to adhere to this principle, one has to be aware of it, which may not be possible in various states of reduced or altered cognitive function such as dreaming or religious experience. Thus, a subjectively enlightened person may still lack the one truly important piece of the puzzle concerning his or her existence.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index Translate to english
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,664
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Jack Martin & Jeff Sugarman (1999). Psychology's Reality Debate: A "Levels of Reality" Approach. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 19 (2):177-194.
Sarah E. Glenn (2003). William James's Conception of Reality. International Philosophical Quarterly 43 (2):207-218.
Thomas L. Gwozdz (2010). Metaphysics and Ethics. International Philosophical Quarterly 50 (4):489-500.
Natalia Martishina (2008). Metaphisics as a Study of True Reality. Proceedings of the Xxii World Congress of Philosophy 15:141-147.
Katalin Farkas (2014). A Sense of Reality. In Fiona MacPherson & Dimitris Platchias (eds.), Hallucinations. MIT Press 399-417.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

26 ( #183,057 of 1,903,041 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #446,009 of 1,903,041 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.