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Mark Silcox

Abstract

In “The Virtual and the Real,” David Chalmers argues that there is an epistemic and ontological parity between VR and ordinary reality. My argument here is that, whatever the plausibility of these claims, they provide no basis for supposing that there is a similar parity of value. Careful reflection upon certain aspects of the transition that individu- als make from interacting with real-world, physical environments to interacting with VR provides a basis for thinking that, to the extent that there are good reasons to deny the reality of virtual objects, there are also reasons to place a correspondingly higher value upon the ex- perience of interacting with a VR environment. Chalmers’ assump- tion to the contrary arises from a subtle misrepresentation of how the phenomenon of cognitive penetration works in the perception of virtual objects, and from an unwillingness to acknowledge how our attitudes toward virtual environments are conditioned by the values we adopt when engaged in gameplay.