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The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach

Virtual Reality  

In his first Meditation, Rene Descartes uses the process of methodological skepticism in an attempt to clear away all beliefs where any doubt is possible.  In this effort, Descartes uses the possibility of sensory illusions, insanity and dreams to argue that the knowledge we gain from our senses is never beyond doubt.  If Descartes were alive today it is a good bet that he would add virtual reality to the list of things that should cause us to doubt our senses.  Listed below are links to various sites that discuss virtual reality in its current state and its future potential.  Review these sites and think about these questions.

  • Do you think computer technology will advance to a state where you could be fooled by virtual reality?  How far into the future do you think this time is?  If you don’t think this sort of advanced virtual reality is possible, why not?
  • What, if any, tests could someone use to determine if the ‘reality’ she was experiencing was ‘real’ or ‘virtual?’  Imagine Descartes asking, “if there is no such test, then how can we ever trust our senses?  How do we know that we aren’t hooked to a computer right now, experiencing virtual reality?
  • What, if any, limits do you think we should impose on the development of such technology?

Virtual Reality Offers Potential, Raises Ethical Questions

Virtual Reality and Philosophy


UM-VRL- Virtual Reality- A Short Introduction

Virtual Reality- History and Future


Philosophy of Virtual Reality

On The Net Resources in Virtual Reality

Jaron Lanier's Writings- Various essays concerning the future of virtual reality

Human Interface Technology Laboratory


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