Imagination, Inference, and Apriority

In Amy Kind & Christopher Badura (eds.), The Epistemic Uses of Imagination. Routledge (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Is imagination a source of knowledge? Timothy Williamson has recently argued that our imaginative capacities can yield knowledge of a variety of matters, spanning from everyday practical matters to logic and set theory. Furthermore, imagination for Williamson plays a similar epistemic role in cognitive processes that we would traditionally classify as either a priori or a posteriori, which he takes to indicate that the distinction itself is shallow and epistemologically fruitless. In this chapter, I aim to defend the a priori-a posteriori distinction from Williamson’s challenge by questioning his account of imagination. I distinguish two notions of imagination at play in Williamson’s account – sensory vs. belief-like imagination – and show that both face empirical and normative issues. Sensory imagination seems neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge. Whereas, belief-like imagination isn’t adequately disentangled from inference. Additionally, Williamson’s examples are ad hoc and don’t generalize. I conclude that Williamson’s case against the a priori-a posteriori distinction is unconvincing, and so is the thesis that imagination is an epistemic source.

Author's Profile

Antonella Mallozzi
Providence College


Added to PP

519 (#21,523)

6 months
99 (#14,876)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?