Conceivability, imagination and modal knowledge

The notion of conceivability has traditionally been regarded as crucial to an account of modal knowledge. Despite its importance to modal epistemology, there is no received explication of conceivability. One purpose of this paper is to argue that the notion is not fruitfully explicated in terms of the imagination. The most natural way of presenting a notion of conceivability qua imaginability is open to cogent criticism. In order to avoid such criticism, an advocate of the modal insightfulness of the imagination must broaden the idea of what it is to be imaginable. I argue that this required broadening renders the imagination idle (in this context). Consequently, I distinguish two different accounts of the evidential basis of modal knowledge and present a more general argument that concludes that the very notion of conceivability should be eschewed in modal epistemology.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2007.00022.x
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References found in this work BETA
Saul Kripke (2010). Naming and Necessity. In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge 431-433.
David J. Chalmers (2002). Does Conceivability Entail Possibility? In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press 145--200.
Stephen Yablo (1993). Is Conceivability a Guide to Possibility? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (1):1-42.

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Citations of this work BETA
Peter Kung (2010). Imagining as a Guide to Possibility. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 81 (3):620-663.
Peter Kung (2011). On the Possibility of Skeptical Scenarios. European Journal of Philosophy 19 (3):387-407.

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