In cases of imaginative contagion, imagining something has doxastic or doxastic-like consequences. In this reply to Tamar Szabó Gendler's article in this collection, I investigate what the philosophical consequences of these cases could be. I argue (i) that imaginative contagion has consequences for how we should understand the nature of imagination and (ii) that imaginative contagion has consequences for our understanding of what belief-forming mechanisms there are. Along the way, I make some remarks about what the consequences of the (...) contagion cases are for the relation between knowledge and imagination. (shrink)
Tamar Gendler argues that, for those living in a society in which race is a salient sociological feature, it is impossible to be fully rational: members of such a society must either fail to encode relevant information containing race, or suffer epistemic costs by being implicitly racist. However, I argue that, although Gendler calls attention to a pitfall worthy of study, she fails to conclusively demonstrate that there are epistemic (or cognitive) costs of being racist. Gendler offers three supporting (...) phenomena. First, implicit racists expend cognitive energy repressing their implicit biases. I reply, citing Ellen Bialystok’s research, that constant use of executive functioning can be beneficial. Second, Gendler argues that awareness of a negative stereotype of one’s own race with regard to a given task negatively affects one’s performance of that task. This phenomenon, I argue, demonstrates that those against whom the stigma is directed suffer costs, but it fails to demonstrate that the stigmatizers suffer cognitively. Finally, Gendler argues that racists are less competent when recognizing faces of other races than when recognizing faces of their own race because, in the first instance, they encode the race of the face (taking up cognitive space that could have been used to encode fine-grained distinctions), whereas in the second instance they encode no race. I argue that in-group/out-group categorization rather than racism is the cognitive cost. I conclude that Gendler has failed to demonstrate that there are cognitive costs associated with being a racist. (shrink)
The Elements of Philosophy: Readings from Past and Present is a comprehensive collection of historical and contemporary readings across the major fields of philosophy. With depth and quality, this introductory anthology offers a selection of readings that is both extensive and expansive; the readings span twenty-five centuries. They are organized topically into five parts: Religion and Belief, Moral and Political Philosophy, Metaphysics and Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind and Language, and Life and Death. The product of the collaboration of three highly (...) respected scholars in their fields - Tamar Szabó Gendler, Susanna Siegel, and Steven M. Cahn - The Elements of Philosophy also includes introductions from the editors, explanatory footnotes, and a glossary. (shrink)
I introduce and argue for the importance of a cognitive state that I call alief. An alief is, to a reasonable approximation, an innate or habitual propensity to respond to an apparent stimulus in a particular way. Recognizing the role that alief plays in our cognitive repertoire provides a framework for understanding reactions that are governed by nonconscious or automatic mechanisms, which in turn brings into proper relief the role played by reactions that are subject to conscious regulation and deliberate (...) control. (shrink)
To what extent and how is conceivability a guide to possibility? This essay explores general philosophical issues raised by this question, and critically surveys responses to it by Descartes, Hume, Kripke and "two-dimensionalists.".
It is a commonplace that contemplation of an imaginary particular may have cognitive and motivational effects that differ from those evoked by an abstract description of an otherwise similar state of affairs. In his Treatise on Human Nature, Hume ( 1978) writes forcefully of this.
Issues of pretense and imagination are of central interest to philosophers, psychologists, and researchers in allied fields. In this entry, we provide a roadmap of some of the central themes around which discussion has been focused. We begin with an overview of pretense, imagination, and the relationship between them. We then shift our attention to the four specific topics where the disciplines' research programs have intersected or where additional interactions could prove mutually beneficial: the psychological underpinnings of performing pretense and (...) of recognizing pretense, the cognitive capacities involved in imaginative engagement with fictions, and the real-world impact of make-believe. In the final section, we discuss more briefly a number of other mental activities that arguably involve imagining, including counterfactual reasoning, delusions, and dreaming. (shrink)
The capacity to represent things to ourselves as possible plays a crucial role both in everyday thinking and in philosophical reasoning; this volume offers much-needed philosophical illumination of conceivability, possibility, and the relations between them.
– develop self-knowledge [Socrates] – cultivate internal harmony [Plato] – foster virtue through habit [Aristotle] – cultivate and appreciate true friendship [Cicero] – recognize what is and is not in your control [Epictetus].
Through careful analysis of a speciﬁc example, Parﬁt’s ‘ﬁssion argument’ for the unimportance of personal identity, I argue that our judgements concerning imaginary scenarios are likely to be unreliable when the scenarios involve disruptions of certain contingent correlations. Parﬁt’s argument depends on our hypothesizing away a number of facts which play a central role in our understanding and employment of the very concept under investigation; as a result, it fails to establish what Parﬁt claims, namely, that identity is not what (...) matters. I argue that Parﬁt’s conclusion can be blocked without denying that he has presented an imaginary case where prudential concern would be rational in the absence of identity. My analysis depends on the recognition that the features that explain or justify a relation may be distinct from the features that underpin it as necessary conditions. (shrink)
Regarding certain fictional characters (and situations) F, it is simultaneously true that: (1) We have genuine and rational emotional responses towards F (2) We believe that F is purely fictional At the same time, it is also true that: (3) In order for us to have genuine and rational emotional responses towards a character (or situation), we must not believe that the character (or situation) is purely fictional.
The utilitarian conception, which I call “action as production,” holds that action is a way of making use of the world, conceived as a causal mechanism. According to the rational intuitionist conception, which I call “action as assertion,” action is a way of acknowledging the value in the world, conceived as a realm of status. On the Kantian constructivist conception, which I call “action as participation,” action is a way of making the world, qua causal mechanism, come to count as (...) a realm of status. My rather limited aim in this paper is to identify three substantively different answers the question of how action relates an agent to the world, regarded as a context of action. (shrink)
Contemplating imaginary scenarios that evoke certain sorts of quasi‐sensory intuitions may bring us to new beliefs about contingent features of the natural world. These beliefs may be produced quasi‐observationally; the presence of a mental image may play a crucial cognitive role in the formation of the belief in question. And this albeit fallible quasi‐observational belief‐forming mechanism may, in certain contexts, be sufficiently reliable to count as a source of justification. This sheds light on the central puzzle surrounding scientific thought experiment, (...) which is how contemplation of an imaginary scenario can lead to new knowledge about contingent features of the natural world. (shrink)
There is a puzzle in the very notion of passive motivation ("passion" or "inclination"). To be motivated is not simply to be moved from the outside. Motivation is in some sense self-movement. But how can an agent be passive with respect to her own motivation? How is passive motivation possible? In this paper I defend the ancient view that inclination stems from a motivational source independent of reason, a motivational source that is both agential and nonrational.
In a series of publications, Tamar Gendler has argued for a distinction between belief and what she calls ?alief?. Gendler's argument for the distinction is a serviceability argument: the distinction is indispensable for explaining a whole slew of phenomena, typically involving ?belief-behaviour mismatch?. After embedding Gendler's distinction in a dual-process model of moral cognition, I argue here that the distinction also suggests a possible (dis)solution of what is perhaps the organizing problem of contemporary moral psychology: the apparent tension between (...) the inherently motivational role of moral judgments and their manifestly objectivistic phenomenology. I argue that moral judgments come in two varieties, moral aliefs and moral beliefs, and it is only the former that are inherently motivating and only the latter that have an objectivistic phenomenology. This serves to both bolster the case for the alief/belief distinction and shed new light on otherwise well-trodden territory in metaethics. I start with an exposition of the moral-psychological problem (?1) and a discussion of Gendler's alief/belief distinction (?2). I then apply the latter to moral judgments in an attempt to dissolve the former (?3). I close with discussion of the upshot for our understanding of moral thought, moral motivation, and moral phenomenology (?4). (shrink)
The paper is a contribution to the debate on the epistemological status of thought experiments. I deal with the epistemological uniqueness of experiments in the sense of their irreducibility to other sources of justification. In particular, I criticize an influential argument for the irreducibility of thought experiments to general arguments. First, I introduce the radical empiricist theory of eliminativism, which considers thought experiments to be rhetorically modified arguments, uninteresting from the epistemological point of view. Second, I present objections to the (...) theory, focusing on the critique of eliminativism by Tamar Szabó Gendler based on the reconstruction of famous Galileo's Pisa experiment. I show that her reconstruction is simplistic and that more elaborate reconstruction is needed for an appropriate assessment of the epistemic power of general argument. I propose such a reconstruction and demonstrate that general version of Pisa experiment is epistemically equal to the particular one. Thus, from an epistemological perspective, Galileo's thought experiment is reducible to a straightforward argument without particular premises. (shrink)
Authors have a lot of leeway with regard to what they can make true in their story. In general, if the author says that p is true in the fiction we’re reading, we believe that p is true in that fiction. And if we’re playing along with the fictional game, we imagine that, along with everything else in the story, p is true. But there are exceptions to these general principles. Many authors, most notably Kendall Walton and Tamar Szabó (...) Gendler, have discussed apparent counterexamples when p is “morally deviant”. Many other statements that are conceptually impossible also seem to be counterexamples. In this paper I do four things. I survey the range of counterexamples, or at least putative counterexamples, to the principles. Then I look to explanations of the counterexamples. I argue, following Gendler, that the explanation cannot simply be that morally deviant claims are impossible. I argue that the distinctive attitudes we have towards moral propositions cannot explain the counterexamples, since some of the examples don’t involve moral concepts. And I put forward a proposed explanation that turns on the role of ‘higher-level concepts’, concepts that if they are satisfied are satisfied in virtue of more fundamental facts about the world, in fiction, and in imagination. (shrink)
I propose that paradigmatic cases of self-deception satisfy the following conditions: (a) the person who is self-deceived about not-P pretends (in the sense of makes-believe or imagines or fantasizes) that not-P is the case, often while believing that P is the case and not believing that not-P is the case; (b) the pretense that not-P largely plays the role normally played by belief in terms of (i) introspective vivacity and (ii) motivation of action in a wide range of circumstances. Understanding (...) self-deception in this way is highly natural. And it provides a non-paradoxical characterization of the phenomenon that explains both its distinctive patterns of instability and its ordinary association with irrationality. Why, then, has this diagnosis been overlooked? I suggest that the oversight is due to a failure to recognize the philosophical significance of a crucial fact about the human mind, namely, the degree to which attitudes other than belief often play a central role in our mental and practical lives, both by "influenc[ing our]... passions and imagination," and by "governing.. .our actions.". (shrink)
By the age of two, children are able to engage in highly elaborate games of symbolic pretense, in which objects and actions in the actual world are taken to stand for objects and actions in a realm of make-believe. These games of pretense are marked by the presence of two central features, which I will call quarantining and mirroring (see also Leslie 1987; Perner 1991). Quarantining is manifest to the extent that events within the pretense-episode are taken to have effects (...) only within that pretense-episode (e.g. the child does not expect that ‘spilling’ ( pretend) ‘tea’1 will result in the table really being wet), or more generally, to the extent that proto-beliefs and proto-attitudes concerning the pretended state of affairs are not treated as beliefs and attitudes relevant to guiding action in the actual world. Mirroring is manifest to the extent that features of the imaginary situation that have not been explicitly stipulated are derivable via features of their real-world analogues (e.g. the child does expect that if she up-ends the teapot above the table, then the table will become wet in the pretense), or, more generally to the extent that imaginative content is taken to be governed by the same sorts of restrictions that govern believed content. (shrink)
ln "Possibilities and the Arguments for Origin Essentialism" Teresa Robertson (1998) contends that the best-known arguments in favour of origin essentialism can succeed only at the cost of violating modal common sense—by denying that any variation in constitution or process of assembly is possible. Focusing on the (Kripke-style) arguments of Nathan Salmon and Graeme Forbes, Robertson shows that both founder in the face of sophisticated Ship of Theseus style considerations. While Robertson is right that neither of the arguments is compelling (...) as formulated, each can be modified to fend off her particular counterexamples; these modifications do not differ in kind from those already needed to deal with ordinary Theseus cases, requiring only a further narrowing of the sufficiency clause from which the necessity of origins is derived. (shrink)
The problem of imaginative resistance holds interest for aestheticians, literary theorists, ethicists, philosophers of mind, and epistemologists. We present a somewhat opinionated overview of the philosophical discussion to date. We begin by introducing the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. We then review existing responses to the problem, giving special attention to recent research directions. Finally, we consider the philosophical significance that imaginative resistance has—or, at least, is alleged to have—for issues in moral psychology, theories of cognitive architecture, and modal epistemology.
By carefully examining one of the most famous thought experiments in the history of science—that by which Galileo is said to have refuted the Aristotelian theory that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones—I attempt to show that thought experiments play a distinctive role in scientific inquiry. Reasoning about particular entities within the context of an imaginary scenario can lead to rationally justified concluusions that—given the same initial information—would not be rationally justifiable on the basis of a straightforward argument.