Royal Institute of Philosophy Lecture
Does virtual reality involve illusory or hallucinatory experience of things that are not present, or does it involve veridical experience of virtual objects?
Philosophers have defended one or other of these options in recent debate. Fiona Macpherson answers this question by outlining and extending a new theory of illusion and hallucination developed in Macpherson and Batty (2016) and applying it to virtual reality experience. In so doing, she pays attention to a feature of virtual reality experience unduly neglected in the philosophical literature: how it is actually produced. The result is a new account of the nature of virtual reality experience that shows that it is far more complex than extant accounts envision.
Extant accounts have assumed a false dichotomy: that the experience is either wholly illusory or hallucinatory or wholly veridical. Fiona shows that it involves multiple veridical, illusory and hallucinatory elements related in a multifaceted fashion. Developing this account of the experience in virtual reality reveals important insights into the nature of indirect perception and reveals new forms of illusion and hallucination that any successful theory of perception and perceptual experience must be able to accommodate.
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