A normative aspect of imagining: taking on a (quasi-)doxastic role

In Íngrid Vendrell-Ferran & Christiana Werner (eds.), Imagination and Experience: Philosophical Explorations. New York, NY: Routledge (2024)
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Abstract

This chapter explores a noteworthy, as-yet-unanalysed normative aspect of imagining. It begins by examining cases where imaginings are deemed erroneous, showing that imaginings can “go wrong” not only by failing to represent that which the imaginer intends to imagine, or is asked to imagine by an external source (e.g. a work of fiction), but also when imaginings arise unbidden. That unintended, non-deliberate imaginings can be erroneous shows that there must be a norm or commitment that is inherent to imagining, a norm or commitment that, if violated, renders imaginings erroneous. Invoking Kendall Walton’s thesis about the normativity of imagining, I adduce a first-pass account of this normative aspect; the account pivots on the idea that imagining aims at, or is committed to representing, that which is fictionally true. After showing that this account is inadequate, I revise Walton’s thesis, arguing that in imagining, we are not committed to representing the fictional truth. Rather, taking on a quasi-doxastic role vis-à-vis the fictional world, we are committed to representing that which is (merely) presented as fictionally true. I proceed to explain the error in question in terms of this thesis, showing that when the quasi-doxastic role we take on in our capacity as imaginers is not carried out properly, our imaginings are rendered erroneous.

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Alon Chasid
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan

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