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Grant number like: HAA-277270-21

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Old Dominion University Research Foundation (Norfolk, VA 23508-0369)
Andrew Kissel (Project Director: June 2020 to present)
John Shull (Co Project Director: November 2020 to present)
Krzysztof Rechowicz (Co Project Director: November 2020 to present)

Digital Humanities Advancement Grants
Digital Humanities

[White paper]

$100,000 (approved)
$85,161 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

Philosophical Thought Experiments in Virtual Reality

The development and testing of virtual reality-based philosophical thought experiments for both classroom teaching and research.

Philosophers present hypothetical scenarios called “thought experiments” to analyze philosophical concepts. This project modifies, extends, and disseminates ongoing work to develop VR scenarios based on the popular “trolley problem” thought experiment, a hypothetical dilemma involving a choice between five deaths and one death. By presenting thought experiments in VR (instead of written presentations), we can address previous concerns that thought experiments are too abstract to be of much use in theorizing, research, and education, and that they do not accurately reflect widespread philosophical beliefs. The scenarios will be disseminated, along with a pilot study data set, via an online and modifiable repository for VR thought experiments. The project will conclude with a symposium to discuss challenges, opportunities, and recommendations for humanities-based research using VR and to promote the use of and ongoing additions to the repository.