About this topic
Summary Imagination is typically taken to be the mental accompaniment to the activity of pretending.  In the course of pretending to be a cat, for example, a child might imagine that her hands are paws or that her sister is a vicious dog who is chasing her. The precise nature of the relationship between imagination and pretending, however, is a matter of dispute.  Some philosophers think imagination is essential for explaining pretend behavior, while others think that we can explain pretend behavior entirely in terms of beliefs and desires.  The philosophical discussion of this topic also takes up issues about the importance of pretense in child development.
Key works Ryle 1960 famously attempts to analyze imagining wholly in terms of pretending.  For discussions about the role of imagination in explaining pretend behavior, see Nichols & Stich 2003, Nichols 2004Carruthers 2006, and Currie & Ravenscroft 2002.  For a discussion of the phenomenon of imaginative contagion (cases in which imagining or pretending that P has effects that we would normally expect only from perceiving or believing that P), see Gendler 2006
Introductions In the course of discussing imagination more generally, Gendler 2011 provides a useful overview to the issues involving imagination and pretense.
Related categories

117 found
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  1. added 2018-09-22
    Are You There, God? It’s Me, the Theist: On the Viability and Virtue of Non-Doxastic Prayer.Amber Griffioen - forthcoming - In Oliver Crisp, James Arcadi & Jordan Wessling (eds.), Reaching for God: New Theological Essays on Prayer. Oxford, UK:
    In this article, I explore the possibility of what I call “non-doxastic theistic prayer”, namely prayer that proceeds without full belief in God – or in the kind of God who could be the recipient of such prayer. After developing a working definition of prayer, I proceed to discuss a few prominent forms of prayer and explore the ways in which such prayer might legitimately be performed non-doxastically. I conclude by examining the possibility that some forms of what I call (...)
  2. added 2018-04-16
    The Factual Belief Fallacy.Neil Van Leeuwen - 2018 - Contemporary Pragmatism (eds. T. Coleman & J. Jong):319-343.
    This paper explains a fallacy that often arises in theorizing about human minds. I call it the Factual Belief Fallacy. The Fallacy, roughly, involves drawing conclusions about human psychology that improperly ignore the large backgrounds of mostly accurate factual beliefs people have. The Factual Belief Fallacy has led to significant mistakes in both philosophy of mind and cognitive science of religion. Avoiding it helps us better see the difference between factual belief and religious credence; seeing that difference in turn enables (...)
  3. added 2018-02-17
    Pretense as Deceptive Behavioral Communication.Cristiano Castelfranchi - 2016 - Pragmatics and Cognitionpragmatics and Cognition 23 (1):16-52.
    Our claim in this paper is that a theory of “pretense” (in all its crucial uses in human society and cognition) can be built only if it is grounded on the general theory of “behavioral implicit communication” (BIC), which is not to be confused with non-verbal communication (with distinct notions being frequently conflated, such as “signs” vs. “messages”, or goal as “intention” vs. goal as “function”). Pretense presupposes some BIC-based human interaction, where a normal, practical behavior is used for signifying (...)
  4. added 2018-02-17
    Pretense for the Complete Idiom.Andy Egan - 2008 - Noûs 42 (3):381-409.
  5. added 2018-02-17
    Imagination, Philosophy, and the Arts.Matthew Kieran & Dominic McIver Lopes (eds.) - 2003 - Routledge.
    _Imagination, Philosophy and the Arts_ is the first comprehensive collection of papers by philosophers examining the nature of imagination and its role in understanding and making art. Imagination is a central concept in aesthetics with close ties to issues in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language, yet it has not received the kind of sustained, critical attention it deserves. This collection of seventeen brand new essays critically examines just how and in what form the notion of imagination (...)
  6. added 2017-11-01
    Imaginative Transportation.Samuel Kampa - 2018 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 96 (4):683-696.
    Actors, undercover investigators, and readers of fiction sometimes report “losing themselves” in the characters they imitate or read about. They speak of “taking on” or “assuming” the beliefs, thoughts, and feelings of someone else. I offer an account of this strange but familiar phenomenon—what I call imaginative transportation.
  7. added 2017-10-11
    Immersion is Attention / Becoming Immersed.Shen-yi Liao - manuscript
    Children sometimes lose themselves in make-believe games. Actors sometimes lose themselves in their roles. Readers sometimes lose themselves in their books. From people's introspective self-reports and phenomenological experiences, these immersive experiences appear to differ from ordinary experiences of simply playing a game, simply acting out a role, and simply reading a book. What explains the difference? My answer: attention. -/- [Unpublishable 2007-2017. This paper was referenced in Liao and Doggett (2014).].
  8. added 2017-09-03
    Walton's Quasi-Emotions Do Not Go Away.Miguel F. Dos Santos - 2017 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 75 (3):265-274.
    The debate about how to solve the paradox of fiction has largely been a debate between Kendall Walton and the so-called thought theorists. In recent years, however, Jenefer Robinson has argued, based on her affective appraisal theory of emotion, for a noncognitivist solution to the paradox as an alternative to the thought theorists’ solution and especially to Walton's controversial solution. In this article, I argue that, despite appearances to the contrary, Robinson's affective appraisal theory is compatible with Walton's solution, at (...)
  9. added 2017-08-23
    Why Irony is Pretence.Gregory Currie - 2006 - In Shaun Nichols (ed.), The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction. Clarendon Press.
  10. added 2017-07-18
    Adaptive Modelling and Mindreading.Donald M. Peterson & Kevin J. Riggs - 1999 - Mind and Language 14 (1):80–112.
    This paper sets out to give sufficient detail to the notion of mental simulation to allow an appraisal of its contribution to ‘mindreading’ in the context of the ‘false-belief tasks’ used in developmental psychology. We first describe the reasoning strategy of ‘modified derivation’, which supports counterfactual reasoning. We then give an analysis of the logical structure of the standard false-belief tasks. We then show how modified derivation can be used in a hybrid strategy for mindreading in these tasks. We then (...)
  11. added 2017-03-31
    Two Paradigms for Religious Representation: The Physicist and the Playground.Neil Van Leeuwen - 2017 - Cognition 164:206-211.
    In an earlier issue, I argue (2014) that psychology and epistemology should distinguish religious credence from factual belief. These are distinct cognitive attitudes. Levy (2017) rejects this distinction, arguing that both religious and factual “beliefs” are subject to “shifting” on the basis of fluency and “intuitiveness.” Levy’s theory, however, (1) is out of keeping with much research in cognitive science of religion and (2) misrepresents the notion of factual belief employed in my theory. So his claims don’t undermine my distinction. (...)
  12. added 2017-02-16
    Sociological Theory: Pretence and Possibility.Keith Dixon - 1975 - Philosophical Review 84 (3):435-437.
  13. added 2017-02-15
    Children's Understanding of Pretend Emotions.Francesc Sidera Caballero & Anna Amadó Codony - unknown
    This preliminary study aims to investigate children’s ability to understand that the emotional expressions that occur in pretend play do not necessarily coincide with the emotions people feel inside. Previous research has found that children aged 4 and 6 have difficulty to distinguish between the external and the internal emotion of a character who pretends an emotion. In the present work, thirteen 4-year-olds and eight 6-year-olds were administered stories in which a character simulated an emotion. Differently from previous research, the (...)
  14. added 2017-02-14
    Review of Recreative Minds. [REVIEW]P. Carruthers - forthcoming - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  15. added 2017-02-13
    Wittgenstein, Pretence and Uncertainty.Livia Andreia Jureschi - 2012 - In Jesús Padilla Gálvez & Margit Gaffal (eds.), Doubtful Certainties. Language-Games, Forms of Life, Relativism. Ontos. pp. 91.
  16. added 2017-02-08
    How Pretence Can Really Be Metarepresentational.Cristina Meini & Alberto Voltolini - 2010 - Mind and Society 9 (1):31-58.
    Our lives are commonly involved with fictionality, an activity that adults share with children. After providing a brief reconstruction of the most important cognitive theories on pretence, we will argue that pretence has to do with metarepresentations, albeit in a rather weakened sense. In our view, pretending entails being aware that a certain representation does not fit in the very same representational model as another representation. This is a minimal metarepresentationalism, for normally metarepresentationalism on pretense claims that pretending is or (...)
  17. added 2017-02-07
    When Pretence Can Be Beneficial.Nava Kahana & Tikva Lecker - 2000 - Theory and Decision 48 (1):85-99.
    The paper examines when unilateral and bilateral pretence may be beneficial distinguishing between positive and negative externalities. Using a two-player single period game and defining altruism, selfishness and meanness as "sentimental continuity" it is shown how the optimal level of the pretended sentimentality is determined. The novelty of the model is that the optimal degree of altruism (meanness) depends on the extent of the positive (negative) externalities.
  18. added 2017-02-02
    Why Pretend?Peter Carruthers - 2006 - In Shaun Nichols (ed.), The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction. Clarendon Press.
  19. added 2017-02-01
    Recreative Minds, by Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft.Gianfranco Soldati - 2006 - European Journal of Philosophy 14 (3):448–452.
  20. added 2017-02-01
    Pretending to Be Awake: A Reply.R. Stephen Talmage - 1968 - Noûs 2 (1):91-94.
  21. added 2017-02-01
    Pretending to Be Awake.Julian Wolfe - 1967 - Noûs 1 (3):299-301.
  22. added 2017-01-28
    Pandering, Pretending, and the Law.Wendy Kaminer - 2008 - Free Inquiry 28:25-25.
  23. added 2017-01-27
    What Guides Pretence? Towards the Interactive and the Narrative Approaches.Zuzanna Rucińska - 2016 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 15 (1):117-133.
    This paper will explore one aspect of the relationship between pretence and narratives. I look at proposals about how scripts play guiding roles in our pretend play practices. I then examine the views that mental representations are needed to guide pretend play, reviewing two importantly different pictures of mental guiders: the Propositional Account and the Model Account. Both accounts are individualistic and internalistic; the former makes use of language-like representations, the latter makes use of models, maps and images. The paper (...)
  24. added 2017-01-26
    Mindvaults: Sociocultural Grounds for Pretending and Imagining.Radu J. Bogdan - 2013 - MIT Press.
    Looks at what the author calls "mindvaulting," or the human mind's ability to vault over the realm of current perception, motivation, emotion and action, to leap—consciously and deliberately—to past or future, possible or impossible, ...
  25. added 2017-01-23
    The Sign System of Human Pretending.Shihong Du - 2010 - Semiotics 2013 (193):144-152.
  26. added 2017-01-21
    Not Exactly Pretending.Cyril Barrett - 1969 - Philosophy 44 (170):331 - 338.
    In his paper ‘Pretending’ J. L. Austin says that philosophers have exaggerated the scope and distorted the meaning of pretending, and the clarification of this notion has a place in the ‘long-term project of classifying and clarifying all possible ways and varieties of not exactly doing things , which has to be carried through if we are ever to understand properly what doing things is.’.
  27. added 2017-01-18
    Pretence.Robert L. Caldwell - 1968 - Mind 77 (305):48-57.
  28. added 2017-01-17
    Imagination in Action.Philipp Dorstewitz - 2016 - Metaphilosophy 47 (3):385-405.
    Recent interest in phenomena of simulation, pretense, and play has given rise to new philosophical debates on the basic structure of human action and action planning. Some philosophers sought to transform Hume's desire-belief-action model by sophisticating its basic structure. For example, they introduced “hypothetical world boxes” or imaginary “i-desires” and “i-beliefs” into the standard model, in order to account for the representational and motivational structures of imaginary scripts. Others used phenomena of behavior driven by imagination to attempt a more fundamental (...)
  29. added 2016-12-08
    The First-Person Perspective Requirement In Pretense.Albergo Gaetano - 2014 - Phenomenology and Mind 7:224-234.
    According to Lynne Baker we need to investigate the performances to understand if someone has a first-person perspective. My claim is that language has not the main role in the formation of epistemic states and self-consciousness. In children’s performances, we have evidence for a self-consciousness without “I” thoughts. We investigate if it is possible to understand the difference between a case of false belief and one of pretense. My aim is to demonstrate that pretense is not a proto-concept but a (...)
  30. added 2016-12-08
    Self-Deception as Pretense.Gendler Tamar Szabó - 2007 - Philosophical Perspectives 21 (1):231 - 258.
    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 (...)
  31. added 2016-12-08
    The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction.Shaun Nichols (ed.) - 2006 - Oxford University Press UK.
    This volume presents new essays on the propositional imagination by leading researchers. The propositional imagination---the mental capacity we exploit when we imagine that everyone is colour-blind or that Hamlet is a procrastinator---plays an essential role in philosophical theorizing, engaging with fiction, and indeed in everyday life. Yet only recently has there been a systematic attempt to give a cognitive account of the propositional imagination. These thirteen essays, specially written for the volume, capitalize on this recent work, extending the theoretical picture (...)
  32. added 2016-10-25
    Imagination in Scientific Modeling.Adam Toon - 2016 - In Amy Kind (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Imagination. Routledge. pp. 451-462.
    Modeling is central to scientific inquiry. It also depends heavily upon the imagination. In modeling, scientists seem to turn their attention away from the complexity of the real world to imagine a realm of perfect spheres, frictionless planes and perfect rational agents. Modeling poses many questions. What are models? How do they relate to the real world? Recently, a number of philosophers have addressed these questions by focusing on the role of the imagination in modeling. Some have also drawn parallels (...)
  33. added 2016-10-25
    Models as Make-Believe: Imagination, Fiction, and Scientific Representation.Adam Toon - 2012 - Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Models as Make-Believe offers a new approach to scientific modelling by looking to an unlikely source of inspiration: the dolls and toy trucks of children's games of make-believe.
  34. added 2016-10-25
    Playing with Molecules.Adam Toon - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):580-589.
    Recent philosophy of science has seen a number of attempts to understand scientific models by looking to theories of fiction. In previous work, I have offered an account of models that draws on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of art. According to this account, models function as ‘props’ in games of make-believe, like children’s dolls or toy trucks. In this paper, I assess the make-believe view through an empirical study of molecular models. I suggest that the view gains support when we (...)
  35. added 2016-10-25
    Models as Make-Believe.Adam Toon - 2010 - In Roman Frigg & Matthew Hunter (eds.), Beyond Mimesis and Convention: Representation in Art and Science. Boston Studies in Philosophy of Science.
    In this paper I propose an account of representation for scientific models based on Kendall Walton’s ‘make-believe’ theory of representation in art. I first set out the problem of scientific representation and respond to a recent argument due to Craig Callender and Jonathan Cohen, which aims to show that the problem may be easily dismissed. I then introduce my account of models as props in games of make-believe and show how it offers a solution to the problem. Finally, I demonstrate (...)
  36. added 2016-09-12
    Imaginative and Fictionality Failure: A Normative Approach.Nils-Hennes Stear - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    If a work of literary fiction prescribes us to imagine that the Devil made a bet with God and transformed into a poodle, then that claim is true in the fiction and we imagine accordingly. Generally, we cooperate imaginatively with literary fictions, however bizarre, and the things authors write into their stories become true in the fiction. But for some claims, such as moral falsehoods, this seems not to be straightforwardly the case, which raises the question: Why not? The puzzles (...)
  37. added 2016-09-12
    Sadomasochism as Make-Believe.Nils-Hennes Stear - 2009 - Hypatia 24 (2):21 - 38.
    In "Rethinking Sadomasochism," Patrick Hopkins challenges the "radical" feminist claim that sadomasochism is incompatible with feminism. He does so by appeal to the notion of "simulation." I argue that Hopkins's conclusions are generally right, but they cannot be inferred from his "simulation" argument. I replace Hopkins's "simulation" with Kendall Walton's more sophisticated theory of "make-believe." I use this theory to better argue that privately conducted sadomasochism is compatible with feminism.
  38. added 2016-08-24
    Do Religious “Beliefs” Respond to Evidence?Neil Van Leeuwen - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (sup1):52-72.
    Some examples suggest that religious credences respond to evidence. Other examples suggest they are wildly unresponsive. So the examples taken together suggest there is a puzzle about whether descriptive religious attitudes respond to evidence or not. I argue for a solution to this puzzle according to which religious credences are characteristically not responsive to evidence; that is, they do not tend to be extinguished by contrary evidence. And when they appear to be responsive, it is because the agents with those (...)
  39. added 2016-05-11
    The Simulation of Belief.Francois Recanati - 2000 - In Pascal Engel (ed.), Believing and Accepting. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 267-298.
  40. added 2016-05-11
    Talk About Fiction.Francois Recanati - 1998 - Lingua E Stile 33 (3):547-558.
  41. added 2016-05-11
    The Dynamics of Situations.François Recanati - 1997 - European Review of Philosophy 2:41-75.
    Every statement represents a certain state of affairs as holding in a certain situation, which the statement concerns. The situation which a statement concerns is indicated by the context. It must be distinguished from whichever situation may be explicitly mentioned in the statement. In this framework, two cognitive processes are analysed: projection and reflection. Both involve two representations: one which concerns a situation s, and another one which explicitly mentions that situation. Through reflection we go from the representation concerning s (...)
  42. added 2016-02-18
    Belief Ascription, Simulation, and Opacity.François Recanati - 2003 - Facta Philosophica 5 (2):223-237.
  43. added 2016-02-18
    Précis of *Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta: An Essay on Metarepresentation.François Recanati - 2003 - Dialectica 58 (2):237-247.
    A summary of my book *Oratio Obliqua, Oratio Recta*, published by MIT Press in 2000 ('Representation and Mind' series).
  44. added 2016-02-18
    Varieties of Simulation.François Recanati - 2002 - In Jerome Dokic & Joelle Proust (eds.), Simulation and Knowledge of Action. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 151-171.
  45. added 2016-02-16
    D'un contexte a l'autre.Francois Recanati - 2008 - Cahiers Chronos 20:1-14.
    On distingue différents types de "contextes" à l'oeuvre dans l'interprétation des expressions indexicales, de façon à rendre compte du style indirect libre et de phénomènes apparentés.
  46. added 2016-02-16
    Indexicality, Context, and Pretense.Francois Recanati - 2005 - In Noel Burton-Roberts (ed.), Pragmatics. Palgrave. pp. 213-229.
    In this paper, I argue that the notion of ‘context' that has to be used in the study of indexicals is far from univocal. A first distinction has to be made between the real context of speech and the context in which the speech act is supposed to take place — only the latter notion being relevant when it comes to determining the semantic values of indexicals. Second, we need to draw a distinction between the context of the locutionary act (...)
  47. added 2016-01-25
    Fictionality and Photography.Richard Woodward - 2016 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (3):279-289.
    In Mimesis as Make-Believe, Kendall Walton gave a pioneering account of the nature of fictionality, which holds that what it is for p to be fictional is for there to exist a prescription to imagine that p. But Walton has recently distanced himself from his original analysis and now holds that prescriptions to imagine are merely necessary conditions on fictionality. Many of the alleged counterexamples that have prompted Walton's retreat are drawn from the field of photography, and it is upon (...)
  48. added 2015-11-17
    Is Young Children’s Recognition of Pretense Metarepresentational or Merely Behavioral? Evidence From 2- and 3-Year-Olds’ Understanding of Pretend Sounds and Speech.Ori Friedman, Karen R. Neary, Corinna L. Burnstein & Alan M. Leslie - 2010 - Cognition 115 (2):314-319.
  49. added 2015-11-17
    The Conceptual Underpinnings of Pretense: Pretending is Not ‘Behaving-as-If’.Ori Friedman & Alan M. Leslie - 2007 - Cognition 105 (1):103-124.
    The ability to engage in and recognize pretend play begins around 18 months. A major challenge for theories of pretense is explaining how children are able to engage in pretense, and how they are able to recognize pretense in others. According to one major account, the metarepresentational theory, young children possess both production and recognition abilities because they possess the mental state concept, pretend. According to a more recent rival account, the Behavioral theory, young children are behaviorists about pretense, and (...)
  50. added 2015-11-01
    Intentional Objects, Pretence, and the Quasi-Relational Nature of Mental Phenomena: A New Look at Brentano on Intentionality.Frederick Kroon - 2013 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 21 (3):377-393.
    Brentano famously changed his mind about intentionality between the 1874 and 1911 editions of Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint (PES). The 1911 edition repudiates the 1874 view that to think about something is to stand in a relation to something that is within in the mind, and holds instead that intentionality is only like a relation (it is ‘quasi-relational’). Despite this, Brentano still insists that mental activity involves ‘the reference to something as an object’, much as he did in the (...)
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