My master’s thesis is finally finished

Here she is, my firstborn child, finally fully developed after years of metaphorical pregnancy. Title and abstract:

Skepticism, epistemological fictionalism and the metaphysical claim that the brain is a virtual reality engine

The primary aim of this essay is to present and defend “virtualism” – essentially, the claim that the brain is a virtual reality engine, meaning that the world of experience is, literally, a virtual reality somehow computationally generated by the brain. The most challenging objection to this theory is that it undermines itself by having to admit its own virtuality, i.e., untruth. In preparing my defence against this, I introduce “epistemological fictionalism” as an attempt at establishing a first philosophy based on global skepticism, inspired in particular by the ancient skeptics and George Santayana. The entire first part of the essay’s two parts deals with epistemological fictionalism, the problem of justifying belief in general, and my reply to the objection that virtualism is self-undermining. In the second part, virtualism is finally expounded, and a wide range of philosophical consequences are explored. In most of what I discuss here, I rely heavily on Antti Revonsuo and Thomas Metzinger.

I think most of you will find part two a lot more interesting than part one. Please tell me what you think, even if you haven’t read the entire thesis, or very closely.

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3 Comments on “My master’s thesis is finally finished”

  1. I will do better than that – I will comment without having read your thesis at all (in the tradition of epistemological fictionalism!). If you consider “skepticism” as a continuum, between virtual certainty and virtual uncertainty, then it is never necessary to get trapped in any one “skeptical position” – you can just move towards either certainty or uncertainty as your needs (or your argument) requires! This is the pragmatic sense of metaphysical virtual reality – there is a distinction between what the senses deliver to the brain, and the semiological interpretation of those inputs. Why this should be “a big deal” or be in any way “controversial,” is a profound philosophical mystery!

  2. Jeg er ikke noe smart eller noe, men jeg liker å lese bloggen din , fant den for litt siden og har lest et godt stykke tilbake på den, lette egentlig etter kilder til en oppgave jeg må være ferdig med om noen timer, og nå har jeg brukt alt for mye tid på å lese her…

  3. says:

    Jeg skal lese den når jeg ikke får sure “Dancy-oppstøt” av å høre begrepet skeptisisme lenger:)


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