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Possibility and imagination

Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):125–144 (2007)

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  1. What Makes a Mental State Feel Like a Memory: Feelings of Pastness and Presence.Melanie Rosen & Michael Barkasi - 2021 - Estudios de Filosofía 64:95-122.
    The intuitive view that memories are characterized by a feeling of pastness, perceptions by a feeling of presence, while imagination lacks either faces challenges from two sides. Some researchers complain that the “feeling of pastness” is either unclear, irrelevant or isn’t a real feature. Others point out that there are cases of memory without the feeling of pastness, perception without presence, and other cross-cutting cases. Here we argue that the feeling of pastness is indeed a real, useful feature, and although (...)
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  • Imaginative Attitudes.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (3):664-686.
    The point of this paper is to reveal a dogma in the ordinary conception of sensory imagination, and to suggest another way forward. The dogma springs from two main sources: a too close comparison of mental imagery to perceptual experience, and a too strong division between mental imagery and the traditional propositional attitudes (such as belief and desire). The result is an unworkable conception of the correctness conditions of sensory imaginings—one lacking any link between the conditions under which an imagining (...)
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  • Counterfactuals Versus Conceivability as a Guide to Modal Knowledge.Daniel Dohrn - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3637-3659.
    I compare two prominent approaches to knowledge of metaphysical modality, the more traditional approach via conceiving viz. imagining a scenario and a more recent approach via counterfactual reasoning. In particular, Timothy Williamson has claimed that the proper context for a modal exercise of imagination is a counterfactual supposition. I critically assess this claim, arguing that a purely conceivability/imaginability-based approach has a key advantage compared to a counterfactual-based one. It can take on board Williamson’s insights about the structure of modal imagination (...)
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  • Conceivability Arguments for Haecceitism.Sam Cowling - 2017 - Synthese 194 (10):4171-4190.
    According to haecceitism, some maximal possibilities differ even while they are qualitatively indiscernible. Since haecceitism is a modal thesis, it is typically defended by appeal to conceivability arguments. These arguments require us to conceive of qualitatively indiscernible possibilities that differ only with respect to the identity of the individuals involved. This paper examines a series of conceivability arguments for haecceitism and a variety of anti-haecceitist responses. It concludes that there is no irresistible conceivability argument for haecceitism even while anti-haecceitist responses (...)
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  • Explaining Imagination.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2020 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    ​Imagination will remain a mystery—we will not be able to explain imagination—until we can break it into parts we already understand. Explaining Imagination is a guidebook for doing just that, where the parts are other ordinary mental states like beliefs, desires, judgments, and decisions. In different combinations and contexts, these states constitute cases of imagining. This reductive approach to imagination is at direct odds with the current orthodoxy, according to which imagination is a sui generis mental state or process—one with (...)
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  • Mental Imagery.Nigel J. T. Thomas - 2001 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Mental imagery (varieties of which are sometimes colloquially refered to as “visualizing,” “seeing in the mind's eye,” “hearing in the head,” “imagining the feel of,” etc.) is quasi-perceptual experience; it resembles perceptual experience, but occurs in the absence of the appropriate external stimuli. It is also generally understood to bear intentionality (i.e., mental images are always images of something or other), and thereby to function as a form of mental representation. Traditionally, visual mental imagery, the most discussed variety, was thought (...)
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  • You Really Do Imagine It: Against Error Theories of Imagination.Peter Kung - 2016 - Noûs 50 (1):90-120.
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  • Aboutness in Imagination.Franz Berto - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 175 (8):1871-1886.
    I present a formal theory of the logic and aboutness of imagination. Aboutness is understood as the relation between meaningful items and what they concern, as per Yablo and Fine’s works on the notion. Imagination is understood as per Chalmers’ positive conceivability: the intentional state of a subject who conceives that p by imagining a situation—a configuration of objects and properties—verifying p. So far aboutness theory has been developed mainly for linguistic representation, but it is natural to extend it to (...)
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  • Knowing How Things Might Have Been.Mark Jago - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 8):1-19.
    I know that I could have been where you are right now and that you could have been where I am right now, but that neither of us could have been turnips or natural numbers. This knowledge of metaphysical modality stands in need of explanation. I will offer an account based on our knowledge of the natures, or essencess, of things. I will argue that essences need not be viewed as metaphysically bizarre entities; that we can conceptualise and refer to (...)
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  • Self-Knowledge and Imagination.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2015 - Philosophical Explorations 18 (2):226-245.
    How do we know when we have imagined something? How do we distinguish our imaginings from other kinds of mental states we might have? These questions present serious, if often overlooked, challenges for theories of introspection and self-knowledge. This paper looks specifically at the difficulties imagination creates for Neo-Expressivist, outward-looking, and inner sense theories of self-knowledge. A path forward is then charted, by considering the connection between the kinds of situations in which we can reliably say that another person is (...)
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  • On the Possibility of Skeptical Scenarios.Peter Kung - 2011 - European Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):387-407.
    : It is generally accepted that skeptical scenarios must be possible to raise legitimate skeptical doubt. I argue that if the possibility in question is supposed to be genuine metaphysical possibility, the skeptic's reasoning does not straightforwardly succeed. I first motivate the metaphysical possibility requirement on skeptical scenarios : it's a plausible position that several authors accept and that a family of prominent views—sensitivity, safety, relevant alternatives—are committed to. I argue that plausible constraints in modal epistemology show that justification for (...)
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  • Mental imagery: pulling the plug on perceptualism.Dan Cavedon-Taylor - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (12):3847-3868.
    What is the relationship between perception and mental imagery? I aim to eliminate an answer that I call perceptualism about mental imagery. Strong perceptualism, defended by Bence Nanay, predictive processing theorists, and several others, claims that imagery is a kind of perceptual state. Weak perceptualism, defended by M. G. F. Martin and Matthew Soteriou, claims that mental imagery is a representation of a perceptual state, a view sometimes called The Dependency Thesis. Strong perceptualism is to be rejected since it misclassifies (...)
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  • Imagining Experiences.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2016 - Noûs:561-586.
    It is often held that in imagining experiences we exploit a special imagistic way of representing mentality—one that enables us to think about mental states in terms of what it is like to have them. According to some, when this way of thinking about the mind is paired with more objective means, an explanatory gap between the phenomenal and physical features of mental states arises. This paper advances a view along those lines, but with a twist. What many take for (...)
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  • Rational Imagination and Modal Knowledge.Jonathan Ichikawa & Benjamin Jarvis - 2012 - Noûs 46 (1):127 - 158.
    How do we know what's (metaphysically) possible and impossible? Arguments from Kripke and Putnam suggest that possibility is not merely a matter of (coherent) conceivability/imaginability. For example, we can coherently imagine that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct objects even though they are not possibly distinct. Despite this apparent problem, we suggest, nevertheless, that imagination plays an important role in an adequate modal epistemology. When we discover what is possible or what is impossible, we generally exploit important connections between what is (...)
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  • Imagining as a Guide to Possibility.Peter Kung - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (3):620-663.
    I lay out the framework for my theory of sensory imagination in “Imagining as a guide to possibility.” Sensory imagining involves mental imagery , and crucially, in describing the content of imagining, I distinguish between qualitative content and assigned content. Qualitative content derives from the mental image itself; for visual imaginings, it is what is “pictured.” For example, visually imagine the Philadelphia Eagles defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers to win their first Super Bowl. You picture the greenness of the field and (...)
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  • The Problem of Modally Bad Company.Tom Schoonen - 2020 - Res Philosophica 97 (4):639-659.
    A particular family of imagination-based epistemologies of possibility promises to provide an account that overcomes problems raised by Kripkean a posteriori impossibilities. That is, they maintain that imagination plays a significant role in the epistemology of possibility. They claim that imagination consists of both linguistic and qualitative content, where the linguistic content is independently verified not to give rise to any impossibilities in the epistemically significant uses of imagination. However, I will argue that these accounts fail to provide a satisfactory (...)
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  • The Epistemology of Modality.Antonella Mallozzi, Michael Wallner & Anand Vaidya - 2021 - The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • Untying the Knot: Imagination, Perception and Their Neural Substrates.Dan Cavedon-Taylor - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):7203-7230.
    How tight is the conceptual connection between imagination and perception? A number of philosophers, from the early moderns to present-day predictive processing theorists, tie the knot as tightly as they can, claiming that states of the imagination, i.e. mental imagery, are a proper subset of perceptual experience. This paper labels such a view ‘perceptualism’ about the imagination and supplies new arguments against it. The arguments are based on high-level perceptual content and, distinctly, cognitive penetration. The paper also defuses a recent, (...)
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  • Modal Arguments Against Materialism.Michael Pelczar - 2021 - Noûs 55 (2):426-444.
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  • Remembering and Imagining: The Attitudinal Continuity.Peter Langland-Hassan - forthcoming - In Anja Berninger & Íngrid Vendrell Ferran (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on Memory and Imagination. London: Routledge.
    Cats and dogs are the same kind of thing in being mammals, even if cats are not a kind of dog. In the same way, remembering and imagining might be the same kind of mental state, even if remembering is not a kind of imagining. This chapter explores whether episodic remembering, on the one hand, and future and counter-factual directed imagistic imagining, on the other, may be the same kind of mental state in being instances of the same cognitive attitude. (...)
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  • Modal Epistemology Made Concrete.Daniel Dohrn - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2455-2475.
    Many philosophers since Hume have accepted that imagining/conceiving a scenario is our prime guide to knowing its possibility. Stephen Yablo provided a more systematic criterion: one is justified in judging that p is possible if one can imagine a world which one takes to verify p. I defend a version of Yablo’s criterion against van Inwagen’s moderate modal scepticism. Van Inwagen’s key argument is that we cannot satisfy Yablo’s criterion because we are not in a position to spell out far-fetched (...)
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  • Taming the Runabout Imagination Ticket.Francesco Berto - 2018 - Synthese (Suppl 8):2029-2043.
    This research is published within the project ‘The Logic of Conceivability’, funded by the European Research Council, Grant Number 681404.
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  • Conceivability and Possibility: Some Dilemmas for Humeans.Francesco Berto & Tom Schoonen - 2018 - Synthese 195 (6):2697-2715.
    The Humean view that conceivability entails possibility can be criticized via input from cognitive psychology. A mainstream view here has it that there are two candidate codings for mental representations (one of them being, according to some, reducible to the other): the linguistic and the pictorial, the difference between the two consisting in the degree of arbitrariness of the representation relation. If the conceivability of P at issue for Humeans involves the having of a linguistic mental representation, then it is (...)
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  • How to Undercut Radical Skepticism.Santiago Echeverri - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (5):1299-1321.
    Radical skepticism relies on the hypothesis that one could be completely cut off from the external world. In this paper, I argue that this hypothesis can be rationally motivated by means of a conceivability argument. Subsequently, I submit that this conceivability argument does not furnish a good reason to believe that one could be completely cut off from the external world. To this end, I show that we cannot adequately conceive scenarios that verify the radical skeptical hypothesis. Attempts to do (...)
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  • Creativity.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2020 - In Explaining Imagination. Oxford: pp. 262-296.
    Comparatively easy questions we might ask about creativity are distinguished from the hard question of explaining transformative creativity. Many have focused on the easy questions, offering no reason to think that the imagining relied upon in creative cognition cannot be reduced to more basic folk psychological states. The relevance of associative thought processes to songwriting is then explored as a means for understanding the nature of transformative creativity. Productive artificial neural networks—known as generative antagonistic networks (GANs)—are a recent example of (...)
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  • Laying ghosts to rest.Donnchadh O’Conaill - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-17.
    One of the most widely-discussed arguments against physcialism appeals to the conceivability of zombies, being which are physically or functionally identical to humans but which have no conscious experiences. Philip Goff : 119–139, 2010; Consci Cognit 21: 742–746, 2012a; in Sprevak M, Kallestrup J New waves in philosophy of mind. Palgrave, 2014) has recently presented a number of different anti-physicalist arguments appealing to the conceivability of ghosts, entities whose nature is exhausted by their being conscious. If ghosts are conceivable, this (...)
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  • There Are No I-Beliefs or I-Desires at Work in Fiction Consumption and This is Why.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2020 - In Explaining Imagination. Oxford: pp. 210-233.
    Currie’s (2010) argument that “i-desires” must be posited to explain our responses to fiction is critically discussed. It is argued that beliefs and desires featuring ‘in the fiction’ operators—and not sui generis imaginings (or "i-beliefs" or "i-desires")—are the crucial states involved in generating fiction-directed affect. A defense of the “Operator Claim” is mounted, according to which ‘in the fiction’ operators would be also be required within fiction-directed sui generis imaginings (or "i-beliefs" and "i-desires"), were there such. Once we appreciate that (...)
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  • What Sort of Imagining Might Remembering Be?Peter Langland-Hassan - forthcoming - Journal of the American Philosophical Association:1-21.
    This paper unites current philosophical thinking on imagination with a burgeoning debate in the philosophy of memory over whether episodic remembering is simply a kind of imagining. So far, this debate has been hampered by a lack of clarity in the notion of ‘imagining’ at issue. Several options are considered and constructive imagining is identified as the relevant kind. Next, a functionalist account of episodic memory is defended as a means to establishing two key points: first, one need not defend (...)
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  • On the Error of Treating Functions as Objects.Karen Green - 2016 - Analysis and Metaphysics 15:20–35.
    In his late fragment, ‘Sources of Knowledge of Mathematics and Natural Sciences’ Frege laments the tendency to confuse functions with objects and says, ‘It is here that the tendency of language by its use of the definite article to stamp as an object what is a function and hence a non-object, proves itself to be the source of inaccurate and misleading expressions and also of errors of thought. Probably most of the impurities that contaminate the logical source of knowledge have (...)
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  • Presentational Phenomenology.Elijah Chudnoff - 2012 - In Miguens & Preyer (eds.), Consciousness and Subjectivity. Ontos Verlag.
    A blindfolded clairvoyant walks into a room and immediately knows how it is arranged. You walk in and immediately see how it is arranged. Though both of you represent the room as being arranged in the same way, you have different experiences. Your experience doesn’t just represent that the room is arranged a certain way; it also visually presents the very items in the room that make that representation true. Call the felt aspect of your experience made salient by this (...)
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  • Can Imagination Give Rise to Knowledge?Madeleine Hyde - 2021 - Dissertation, Stockholm University
    My thesis centres on the question of whether imaginative states can give rise to knowledge - including whether, and the extent to which, imaginative states can justify beliefs. Across seven chapters, I answer that imaginative states can indeed give rise to knowledge. The first and final chapters introduce and summarise the thesis. In the second chapter, I ask both what different cases of imagining have in common and what sets them apart from other kinds of mental states. In the third (...)
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  • Game Counterpossibles.Felipe Morales Carbonell - 2020 - Argumenta 6 (1):117-133.
    Counterpossibles, counterfactuals conditional with impossible antecedents, are notoriously contested; while the standard view makes them trivially true, some authors argue that they can be non-trivially true. In this paper, I examine the use of counterfactuals in the context of games, and argue that there is a case to be made for their non-triviality in a restricted sense. In particular, I examine the case of retro problems in chess, where it can happen that one is tasked with evaluating counterfactuals about illegal (...)
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  • The Limits of Modal Knowledge.Rehan P. Visser - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (2):323-343.
    Modal agnosticism is the view that we must be agnostic about whether things could have turned out differently. I argue that claims about unrealised possibilities are not justified by our modal intuitions, nor are they justified by any of the means proposed by philosophers. It follows that we do not have merely metaphysical modal knowledge, and that we must adopt modal agnosticism.
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  • Knowledge of Objective Modality.Margot Strohminger & Juhani Yli-Vakkuri - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (5):1155-1175.
    The epistemology of modality has focused on metaphysical modality and, more recently, counterfactual conditionals. Knowledge of kinds of modality that are not metaphysical has so far gone largely unexplored. Yet other theoretically interesting kinds of modality, such as nomic, practical, and ‘easy’ possibility, are no less puzzling epistemologically. Could Clinton easily have won the 2016 presidential election—was it an easy possibility? Given that she didn’t in fact win the election, how, if at all, can we know whether she easily could (...)
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  • Characterizing the Imaginative Attitude.Nicholas Wiltsher - 2019 - Philosophical Papers 48 (3):437-469.
    Three thoughts strongly influence recent work on sensory imagination, often without explicit articulation. The image thought says that all mental states involving a mental image are imaginative. The attitude thought says that, if there is a distinctive imaginative attitude, it is a single, monolithic attitude. The function thought says that the functions of sensory imagination are identical or akin to functions of other mental states such as judgment or belief. Taken together, these thoughts create a theoretical context within which eliminativism (...)
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