Imagining stories: attitudes and operators

Philosophical Studies 178 (2):639-664 (2021)
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This essay argues that there are theoretical benefits to keeping distinct—more pervasively than the literature has done so far—the psychological states of imagining that p versus believing that in-the-story p, when it comes to cognition of fiction and other forms of narrative. Positing both in the minds of a story’s audience helps explain the full range of reactions characteristic of story consumption. This distinction also has interesting conceptual and explanatory dimensions that haven’t been carefully observed, and the two mental state types make distinct contributions to generating emotional responses to stories. Finally, the differences between the mental states illuminate how a given story can be both shared with others and at the same time experienced as personal.

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Neil Van Leeuwen
Georgia State University


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