Monthly Archives: July 2020

Dr Ema Sullivan-Bissett (University of Birmingham) at the Philosophy Research Seminar

In May, Dr Ema Sullivan-Bissett from the University of Birmingham joined us over Skype to investigate whether, and how, immersion in a virtual reality environment can affect implicit gender or racial biases.

Recent studies presume an associationist understanding of the nature of bias. However, recently philosophers have made a case for understanding implicit biases not (or not exclusively), in terms of associations, but rather as propositionally structured (Levy 2015, Mandelbaum 2016, Sullivan-Bissett 2019). However, no propositionalist has considered the work from virtual reality studies and how to integrate it into their theories. In this paper Dr Sullivan-Bissett examined the empirical work on virtual reality and implicit bias against this non-associationist background, in particular, looking at the belief and imagination models of implicit bias. She argued that the results therein are best accommodated by a model of bias that understands them as unconscious imaginings, and that as such, work on virtual reality supports the view that implicit biases are constituted by unconscious imaginings.

Dr Solveig Aasen (University of Oslo) at the Philosophy Research Seminar

In February’s Philosophy research seminar – the final one before the world went into lockdown – Dr Solveig Aasen flew over from Oslo to tell us about Mediated Perception of Representing and Non-Representing Objects.

Dr Aasen asked how we can make sense of a distinction between perception of representations such as pictures and speech, and perception of objects and properties themselves. One idea would be to focus on a difference in perceptual structure: When perceiving representing objects like pictures and speech, one becomes aware of one thing (e.g. a person, a meaning) in, by or in virtue of perceiving something else (e.g. a surface or a sound). However, such mediation also occurs for various cases of perception of objects and properties themselves. Dr Aasen critically assessed various ways to demarcate sensory mediation from representational mediation.