Kant Meets Cyberpunk

Open access


I defend a how-possibly argument for Kantian (or Kant*-ian) transcen- dental idealism, drawing on concepts from David Chalmers, Nick Bostrom, and the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. If we are ar- tificial intelligences living in a virtual reality instantiated on a giant computer, then the fundamental structure of reality might be very dif- ferent than we suppose. Indeed, since computation does not require spatial properties, spatiality might not be a feature of things as they are in themselves but instead only the way that things necessarily ap- pear to us. It might seem unlikely that we are living in a virtual reality instantiated on a non-spatial computer. However, understanding this possibility can help us appreciate the merits of transcendental ideal- ism in general, as well as transcendental idealism’s underappreciated skeptical consequences.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Alexander H.G. ed. 1956. The Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence. Manchester UK: Manchester University Press.

  • Allais Lucy. 2015. Manifest Reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Asimov Isaac. 1982. The Complete Robot. Garden City NY: Doubleday.

  • Barrow John D.; and Frank J. Tipler. 1986. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Berkeley George. 1710/1965. A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. In Principles dialogues and philosophical correspondence ed. C. M. Turbayne. New York: Macmillan.

  • Bostrom Nick. 2002. Anthropic Bias. New York: Routledge.

  • Bostrom Nick. 2003. Are we living in a computer simulation? Philosophical Quarterly 53: 243–55.

  • Bostrom Nick. 2011. Personal communication publicly shared with permission as “Bostrom’s response to my discussion of the simulation argument” at The Splintered Mind blog Sep. 2 2011. http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2011/09/bostroms-response-to-my-discussion-of.html.

  • Carroll Sean. 2010. From Eternity to Here. New York: Penguin.

  • Chalmers David J. 1996. The Conscious Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Chalmers David J. 2003/2010. The Matrix as metaphysics. In The Character of Consciousness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Chalmers David J. 2010. The singularity: a philosophical analysis. Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (9–10): 7–65.

  • Chalmers David J. 2012. Constructing the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Chalmers David J. 2017a. The structuralist response to skepticism. Unpublished manuscript. Downloaded from PhilPapers August 17 2017.

  • Chalmers David J. 2017b. The virtual and the real. Disputatio 9: 309–52.

  • Chen Xiaoke; Gabitto Mariano; Peng Yueqing; Ryba Nicholas J. P.; and Zuker Charles S. 2011. A gustotopic map of taste qualities in the mammalian brain. Science 333: 1262–6.

  • Chomsky Noam. 2009. The mysteries of nature: how deeply hidden? Journal of Philosophy 106: 167–200.

  • Descartes René. 1637/1985. Discourse on the Method. In The Philosophical Writings of Descartes vol. I trans. J. Cottingham R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Descartes René. 1641/1984. Meditations on First Philosophy. In The Philosophical Writings of Descartes vol. II trans. J. Cottingham R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Descartes René. 1647/1985. Principles of Philosophy. In The Philosophical Writings of Descartes vol. I trans. J. Cottingham R. Stoothoff and D. Murdoch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Egan Greg. 1994. Permutation City. London: Millennium.

  • Egan Greg. 1997. Diaspora. London: Millennium.

  • Greaves Hilary. 2011. In search of (spacetime) structuralism. Philosophical Perspectives 25: 189–204.

  • Hempel Carl G. 1980. Comments on Goodman’s Ways of Worldmaking. Synthese 45: 193–9.

  • Hume David. 1779/1947. Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion ed. N.K. Smith. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

  • Kurzweil Ray. 2005. The Singularity is Near. New York: Penguin.

  • Lam Vincent. 2017. Structuralism in the philosophy of physics. Philosophy Compass 12: e12421.

  • Langton Rae. 1998. Kantian Humility. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Levin J. 2000. Dispositional theories of color and the claims of common sense. Philosophical Studies 100: 151–74.

  • Locke John. 1689/1975. Essay Concerning Human Understanding ed. P.H. Nidditch. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Lycan William G. 2001. Moore against the new skeptics. Philosophical Studies 103: 35–53.

  • Mill John Stuart. 1867. An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy. London: Longmans Green Reader and Dyer.

  • Montero Barbara. 1999. The body problem. Noûs 33: 183–200.

  • Moore G. E. 1925. A defence of common sense. In Contemporary British philosophy ed. J.H Muirhead. London: George Allen and Unwin.

  • Peacocke Christopher. 1984. Colour concepts and colour experience. Synthese 58: 365–81.

  • Putnam Hilary. 1965. Psychological predicates. In Art Mind and Religion ed. W. H. Capitan and D. D. Merrill. Liverpool: University of Pittsburgh Press / C. Tinling.

  • Putnam Hilary. 1981. Reason Truth and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Schwitzgebel Eric. 2014. The crazyist metaphysics of mind. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92: 665–82.

  • Schwitzgebel Eric. 2017a. 1% skepticism. Noûs 51: 271–90.

  • Schwitzgebel Eric. 2017b. THE TURING MACHINES OF BABEL. Apex 98. URL: https://www.apex-magazine.com/the-turing-machines-of-babel/

  • Snodgrass Melinda M.; and Scheerer Robert. 1989. The measure of a man. Star Trek: The Next Generation season 2 episode 9.

  • Stang Nicholas F. 2016. Kant’s transcendental idealism. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2016 ed.) https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/kant-transcendental-idealism.

  • Steinhart Eric. 2014. Your Digital Afterlives. New York: Palgrave. Stoljar Daniel. 2010. Physicalism. Oxford: Routledge.

  • Strawson Peter F. 1959. Individuals. London: Methuen.

  • Tegmark Max. 2014. Our Mathematical Universe. New York: Random House.

  • Turing A. M. 1936. On computable numbers with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem. Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society Series 2 42: 230–65.

  • Van Cleve James. 1995. Putnam Kant and secondary qualities. Philosophical Papers 24: 83–109.

  • Wittgenstein Ludwig. 1951/1969. On Certainty ed. G.E.M. Anscombe and G.H. von Wright. New York: Harper.

Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.25

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.154
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.348

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 332 332 67
PDF Downloads 305 305 49