The Epistemic Role of Vividness

Analysis (forthcoming)
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The vividness of mental imagery is epistemically relevant. Intuitively, vivid and intense memories are epistemically better than weak and hazy memories, and using a clear and precise mental image in the service of spatial reasoning is epistemically better than using a blurry and imprecise mental image. But how is vividness epistemically relevant? I argue that vividness is higher-order evidence about one’s epistemic state, rather than first-order evidence about the world. More specifically, the vividness of a mental image is higher-order evidence about the amount of first-order information one has about its subject matter. When vividness is sufficiently low, it can give one reason to doubt the epistemic basis of the mental image and thereby act as a defeater. This account has important implications for theorizing about the epistemic roles of memory, imagination, mental imagery, and phenomenal consciousness.

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Joshua Myers
Universitat de Barcelona


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