Abstract for Chalmers’ talk

I’ll discuss the status of the manifest image of space in light of the scientific image. As in the case of color, we’ve gone through a “fall from Eden” suggesting that the world does not contain space exactly as it is presented to us in experience. Relativistic physics suggests that perceived spatial properties are not absolute, and versions of quantum mechanics and string theory suggest that they are not fundamental. I’ll suggest that this transition involves a move from spatial primitivism, on which spatial properties are primitive properties that we immediately grasp, to spatial functionalism, on which space is conceived as whatever fills certain (physical and phenomenal) roles. I will examine various sorts of spatial functionalism, and will apply them to questions about space in quantum mechanics and virtual reality. I will conclude by discussing the upshot for external-world skepticism.

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