Philosophy of Virtual Worlds (PHIL10221)
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**Spaces on Philosophy Honours courses are extremely limited, and so priority is given to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the Philosophy department (including Erasmus students on a Philosophy Exchange). Exchange students outside of Philosophy and independent study abroad students cannot be guaranteed enrolment in ANY 3rd/4th year Philosophy courses** Please note that 3rd year Philosophy courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces. If there is sufficient space for other visiting students to enrol at the start of the semester, visiting students must have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above to qualify for this course; we will only consider University/College level courses.
Virtual worlds that are indistinguishable from non-virtual worlds are no longer just far off examples from science fiction - they are instead, very likely, something humanity will face in the near future. Thinking seriously about virtual (and augmented) reality requires confronting philosophical questions from metaphysics to ethics, and beyond. For example, are virtual worlds merely illusions or fictions? Is virtual reality just escapism? Does what happens in virtual reality really happen? Are the objects in virtual worlds real objects? How do we know that our world is not a virtual world? Would it even matter if it was? Can one lead a meaningful life in a virtual world? This course provides the opportunity to engage with some of the diverse and controversial answers to these questions. In doing so, we will make connections to, and be guided by, doctrines and positions from the history of philosophy.
The course will be divided into four main parts, each of which will be addressed, although the exact distribution of topics and the emphasis may vary in any given year. **1. Knowledge and virtual worlds: This part of the course addresses the distinctive epistemological issues arising from virtual worlds. The following are representative topics which will usually be covered: a) How do we know we aren't in a simulation? b) Is it likely that we are in a simulation? **2. Reality and virtual worlds: This part of the course addresses the distinctive metaphysical issues arising from virtual worlds. The following are representative topics which will usually be covered: a) What is reality? b) What is virtual reality? c) Can virtual things be real? **3. Mind and virtual worlds: This part of the course addresses the distinctive issues in the philosophy of mind arising from virtual worlds. The following are representative topics which will usually be covered: a) How do mind and body interact in a virtual world? b) Can there be consciousness in a simulation? c) Does augmented reality extend the mind? **4. Value and virtual worlds: This part of the course addresses the distinctive moral issues arising from virtual worlds. The following are representative topics which will usually be covered: a) Can one lead a good life in a virtual world? b) Do simulated lives matter?
Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%
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