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.
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  1. L'impegno ontologico del pretense.Gaetano Albergo - 2013 - Rivista di Estetica 53 (53):155-177.
    It is well known that, from the second year of life, children engage in imaginative activities and pretend play. Pretending is changing the nature of perceptual inputs at will. In this paper I shall take up the question of young children’s knowledge about the pretend-real distinctions. According to Josef Perner, they have an immature concept, called prelief, because they do not differentiate between believing and pretending. But, we know that belief and pretense have different inputs. Imagination is at the whim (...)
  2. Does Ontogenesis of Social Ontology Start with Pretend?Gaetano Albergo - 2012 - Phenomenology and Mind (3):120-129.
    Rakoczy and Tomasello follow Searle in claiming that rule games need status function assignment and constitutive rules. But, in the case of pretend play, it is not easy to put together these notions with the natural world knowledge necessary to engage in it. If we consider the pretended scenario as a possible world, metaphysically possible, then, how can we abandon the natural necessity implicit in it? The rules of pretend-inference can have a robustly objective status. On this view pretence stands (...)
  3. Pretending.J. L. Austin & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 32 (1):261-294.
  4. 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.’.
  5. Belief and Pretense: A Reply to Gendler.Martijn Blaauw - 2006 - Metaphilosophy 37 (2):204-209.
    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 (...)
  6. 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, ...
  7. Pretending as Imaginative Rehearsal for Cultural Conformity.Radu J. Bogdan - 2005 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 5 (1-2):191-213.
    Pretend play and pretense develop in distinct phases of childhood as ontogenetically adaptive responses to pressures specific to those phases, and may have evolved in different periods of human ancestry. These are pressures to assimilate cultural artifacts, norms, roles, and behavioral scripts. The playful and creative elements in both forms of pretending are dictated by the variable, open-ended, and evolving nature and function of the cultural tasks they handle. The resulting creativity of the adult intellect is likely to be a (...)
  8. Pretence.Robert L. Caldwell - 1968 - Mind 77 (305):48-57.
  9. Review of Recreative Minds. [REVIEW]P. Carruthers - forthcoming - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  10. Why Pretend?Peter Carruthers - 2006 - In Shaun Nichols (ed.), The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction. Clarendon Press.
  11. Review of Gregory Currie, Ian Ravenscroft, Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology[REVIEW]Peter Carruthers - 2003 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003 (11).
  12. Pretense as Deceptive Behavioral Communication.Cristiano Castelfranchi - 2016 - Pragmatics Cognition 23 (1):16-52.
  13. Desire in Imagination.Gregory Currie - 2002 - In Tamar S. Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 201-221.
  14. Imagination as Motivation.Gregory Currie - 2002 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 102 (3):201-16.
    What kinds of psychological states motivate us? Beliefs and desires are the obvious candidates. But some aspects of our behaviour suggest another idea. I have in mind the view that imagination can sometimes constitute motivation.
  15. Imagination as Simulation: Aesthetics Meets Cognitive Science.Gregory Currie - 1995 - In Martin Davies & Tony Stone (eds.), Mental Simulation. Blackwell.
  16. Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology.Gregory Currie & Ian Ravenscroft - 2002 - Oxford University Press.
    Recreative Minds develops a philosophical theory of imagination that draws upon the latest work in psychology. This theory illuminates the use of imagination in coming to terms with art, its role in enabling us to live as social beings, and the psychological consequences of disordered imagination. The authors offer a lucid exploration of a fascinating subject.
  17. Sociological Theory: Pretence and Possibility.Keith Dixon - 1975 - Philosophical Review 84 (3):435-437.
  18. Some Questions for Tamar Szabo Gendler. [REVIEW]Tyler Doggett - 2012 - Analysis 72 (4):764-774.
    Contribution to a symposium on Gendler's Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology.
  19. Review of Tamar Szabo Gendler's Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology. [REVIEW]Tyler Doggett - 2011 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  20. How We Feel About Terrible, Non-Existent Mafiosi.Tyler Doggett & Andy Egan - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 84 (2):277-306.
    We argue for an imaginative analog of desire from premises about imaginative engagement with fiction. There's a bit about the paradox of fiction, too.
  21. Wanting Things You Don't Want: The Case for an Imaginative Analogue of Desire.Tyler Doggett & Andy Egan - 2007 - Philosophers' Imprint 7 (9):1-17.
    You’re imagining, in the course of a different game of make-believe, that you’re a bank robber. You don’t believe that you’re a bank robber. You are moved to point your finger, gun-wise, at the person pretending to be the bank teller and say, “Stick ‘em up! This is a robbery!”.
  22. The Unity of Imagining.Fabian Dorsch - 2012 - De Gruyter.
    Please send me an email (fabian.dorsch@unifr.ch) if you wish to receive a copy of the book. — 'In this highly ambitious, wide ranging, immensely impressive and ground-breaking work Fabian Dorsch surveys just about every account of the imagination that has ever been proposed. He identifies five central types of imagining that any unifying theory must accommodate and sets himself the task of determining whether any theory of what imagining consists in covers these five paradigms. Focussing on what he takes to (...)
  23. 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 (...)
  24. The Sign System of Human Pretending.Shihong Du - 2010 - Semiotics 2013 (193):144-152.
  25. Pretense for the Complete Idiom.Andy Egan - 2008 - Noûs 42 (3):381 - 409.
  26. Review: The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction. [REVIEW]A. Everett - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):1151-1154.
  27. Belief in Make-Believe.Stephen Everson - 2007 - European Journal of Philosophy 15 (1):63–81.
  28. 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 (...)
  29. Is Young Children’s Recognition of Pretense Metarepresentational or Merely Behavioral? Evidence From 2- and 3-Year-Olds’ Understanding of Pretend Sounds and Speech. [REVIEW]Ori Friedman, Karen R. Neary, Corinna L. Burnstein & Alan M. Leslie - 2010 - Cognition 115 (2):314-319.
  30. Imagining Fact and Fiction.Stacie Friend - 2008 - In Kathleen Stock & Katherine Thomsen-Jones (eds.), New Waves in Aesthetics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 150-169.
  31. Fictional Characters.Stacie Friend - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (2):141–156.
    If there are no fictional characters, how do we explain thought and discourse apparently about them? If there are, what are they like? A growing number of philosophers claim that fictional characters are abstract objects akin to novels or plots. They argue that postulating characters provides the most straightforward explanation of our literary practices as well as a uniform account of discourse and thought about fiction. Anti-realists counter that postulation is neither necessary nor straightforward, and that the invocation of pretense (...)
  32. Review of Shaun Nichols (Ed.), The Architecture of the Imagination: New Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction[REVIEW]Stacie Friend - 2007 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2007 (4).
  33. Imagination and Other Scripts.Eric Funkhouser & Shannon Spaulding - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 143 (3):291-314.
    One version of the Humean Theory of Motivation holds that all actions can be causally explained by reference to a belief–desire pair. Some have argued that pretense presents counter-examples to this principle, as pretense is instead causally explained by a belief-like imagining and a desire-like imagining. We argue against this claim by denying imagination the power of motivation. Still, we allow imagination a role in guiding action as a script . We generalize the script concept to show how things besides (...)
  34. The First-Person Perspective Requirement In Pretense.Gaetano Albergo - 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 (...)
  35. 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 (...)
  36. Quarantining and Contagion, Mirroring and Disparity: On the Relation Between Pretense and Belief.Tamar Gendler - 2003 - In Matthew Kieran & Dominic Lopes (eds.), Imagination, Philosophy, and the Arts. Routledge.
  37. Imaginative Contagion.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2006 - Metaphilosophy 37 (2):183-203.
    The aim of this article is to expand the diet of examples considered in philosophical discussions of imagination and pretense, and to offer some preliminary observations about what we might learn about the nature of imagination as a result. The article presents a number of cases involving imaginative contagion: cases where merely imagining or pretending that P has effects that we would expect only perceiving or believing that P to have. Examples are offered that involve visual imagery, motor imagery, fictional (...)
  38. On the Relation Between Pretense and Belief.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2003 - In Matthew Kieran & Dominic McIver Lopes (eds.), Imagination Philosophy and the Arts. Routledge. pp. 125--141.
    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 (...)
  39. Review of Paul Harris, The Work of the Imagination. [REVIEW]Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):414-418.
    I had a structural worry about the relation of Gaita’s three chapters on truth, interesting though these chapters are, to the rest of Gaita’s project. And I had some residual questions left after reading the book: What are persons? How do we know when we are encountering one, and when are we justified (we must be sometimes: compare the various sorts of animal) in a decision that something we encounter is not a person? Do evil actions always involve a sort (...)
  40. Review: The Work of the Imagination. [REVIEW]Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2002 - Mind 111 (442):414-418.
  41. The Problem of Imaginative Resistance.Tamar Szabó Gendler & Shen-yi Liao - 2016 - In John Gibson & Noël Carroll (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Literature. Routledge. pp. 405-418.
    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.
  42. Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology by Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002, Pp. 233; ISBN 0 19 823809 6 (Pbb) ??XX.Xx. [REVIEW]Peter Goldie - 2004 - Philosophy 79 (2):331-335.
  43. The Work of the Imagination.Paul Harris - 2000 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    This book demonstrates how children's imagination makes a continuing contribution to their cognitive and emotional development.
  44. Imagining and Pretending.Paul L. Harris - 1995 - In Mental Simulation. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  45. Mental Simulation.Paul L. Harris - 1995 - Cambridge: Blackwell.
  46. Mind, Reason, and Imagination: Selected Essays in Philosophy of Mind and Language.Jane Heal - 2003 - Cambridge University Press.
    Recent philosophy of mind has had a mistaken conception of the nature of psychological concepts. It has assumed too much similarity between psychological judgments and those of natural science and has thus overlooked the fact that other people are not just objects whose thoughts we may try to predict and control but fellow creatures with whom we talk and co-operate. In this collection of essays, Jane Heal argues that central to our ability to arrive at views about others' thoughts is (...)
  47. Pretending and Meaning.Richard Michael Henry - 1994 - Dissertation, University of Minnesota
    Since Plato, Western critics of literature have contested how fiction writers mean something serious by their lies. In his Defense of Poesie , Sir Philip Sidney rejects Plato's characterization of the poet as liar, protesting that the poet "nothing affirmeth and therefore never lieth." Nearly four centuries later, John Searle echoes Sidney's account with his own distinction between lying and two types of pretending, "deceptive" and "nondeceptive." Fiction, posits Searle, involves nondeceptive pretending. The critical positions represented by linking fiction to (...)
  48. Review: Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology, by Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft.Christoph Hoerl - 2005 - Mind and Language 20 (5):559-564.
  49. Review: Recreative Minds: Imagination in Philosophy and Psychology, by Gregory Currie and Ian Ravenscroft. [REVIEW]Christoph Hoerl - 2005 - Mind & Language 20:559-564.
  50. 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.
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