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Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology

Volume 19, Issue 3, Fall 2015

Oliver Laas
Pages 314-357
DOI: 10.5840/techne2015121441

Contemporary Philosophical Theories of Virtuality
A Critical Examination and a Nominalist Alternative

While the information revolution has ushered in a renewed philosophical interest in the notion of virtuality, the ontological status of virtual entities remains ambiguous. The present paper examines three forms of metaphysical realism about the meaning of the term ‘virtual’: genuine as well as intentionalist and computer-based reductivist realisms. Since all three are found wanting, a nominalist alternative is proposed. It is argued that ‘virtual’ is non-referential, and thus ontologically non-committing. Focusing on the metaphysical problem about the ontological status of virtuality obscures the real issue, namely the ontological status of models as implemented in software.

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