Adam Michael Bricker

ABSTRACT: There are brains in vats (BIVs) in the actual world. These “cerebral organoids” are roughly comparable to the brains of three-month-old foetuses, and conscious cerebral organoids seem only a matter of time. Philosophical interest in conscious cerebral organoids has thus far been limited to bioethics, and the purpose of this paper is to discuss cerebral organoids in an epistemological context. In doing so, I will argue that it is now clear that there are close possible worlds in which we are BIVs. Not only does this solidify our intuitive judgement that we cannot know that we are not BIVs, but it poses a fundamental problem for both the neo-Moorean (i.e. safety-based) anti-sceptical strategy, which purports to allow us to know that we aren’t BIVs, and the safety condition on knowledge itself. Accordingly, this case is especially instructive in illustrating just how epistemologically relevant empirical developments can be.

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