The Island Has Its Reasons: Moral Subjectivism in Fiction

Dialogue 55 (2):121-124 (2016)
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Abstract
Tamar Gendler takes on “explaining our comparative difficulty in imagining fictional worlds that we take to be morally deviant” (56), otherwise known as the puzzle of imaginative resistance. Generally speaking, readers have no trouble believing untrue factual claims such as in Alice in Wonderland or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but we resist claims which advocate praise or approval of immoral acts such as murder. Gendler submits that the implied author aims to persuade the reader to change his or her moral beliefs, thereby causing imaginative resistance. This paper will explain that imaginative resistance is fundamentally an interpersonal moral conflict as experienced in the ethical theory of moral subjectivism, and will suggest ways to manage imaginative resistance by looking at the whole work of fiction.
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Archival date: 2014-12-06
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