Imagination, Inference, and Apriority

In Amy Kind & Christopher Badura (eds.), The Epistemic Uses of Imagination. Routledge (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Is imagination a source of knowledge? Timothy Williamson has recently argued that our imaginative capacities can yield knowledge of a variety of matters, spanning from everyday practical matters to logic and set theory. Furthermore, imagination for Williamson plays a similar epistemic role in cognitive processes that we would traditionally classify as either a priori or a posteriori, which he takes to indicate that the distinction itself is shallow and epistemologically fruitless. In this chapter, I aim to defend the a priori-a posteriori distinction from Williamson’s challenge by questioning his account of imagination. I distinguish two notions of imagination at play in Williamson’s account – sensory vs. belief-like imagination – and show that both face empirical and normative issues. Sensory imagination seems neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge. Whereas, belief-like imagination isn’t adequately disentangled from inference. Additionally, Williamson’s examples are ad hoc and don’t generalize. I conclude that Williamson’s case against the a priori-a posteriori distinction is unconvincing, and so is the thesis that imagination is an epistemic source.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

How Deep is the Distinction between A Priori and A Posteriori Knowledge?Timothy Williamson - 2013 - In Albert Casullo & Joshua C. Thurow (eds.), The A Priori in Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 291-312.
Imagination Through Knowledge.Shannon Spaulding - 2016 - In Amy Kind & Peter Kung (eds.), Knowledge Through Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 207-226.
Kant on the epistemic role of the imagination.Tobias Rosefeldt - 2019 - Synthese 198 (Suppl 13):3171-3192.
Depiction and imagination.Jiri Benovsky - 2016 - SATS 17 (1):61-80.
Depiction and Imagination.Jiri Benovsky - 2016 - SATS 17 (1):61-80.
On Choosing What to Imagine.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2016 - In A. Kind & P. Kung (eds.), Knowledge Through Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 61-84.
Knowledge by Imagination - How Imaginative Experience Can Ground Knowledge.Fabian Dorsch - 2016 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 35 (3):87-116.
Imagination, stipulation and vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1997 - Philosophical Issues 8:215-228.
Philosophical knowledge and knowledge of counterfactuals.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 74 (1):89-123.


Added to PP

758 (#21,899)

6 months
183 (#17,086)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Antonella Mallozzi
Providence College

Citations of this work

The epistemic imagination revisited.Arnon Levy & Ori Kinberg - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (2):319-336.
Imagination as a source of empirical justification.Joshua Myers - 2024 - Philosophy Compass 19 (3):e12969.
Imagination and the A Priori.Jared Warren - 2022 - Synthese 201 (1):1-16.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
Does conceivability entail possibility.David J. Chalmers - 2002 - In Tamar Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 145--200.
The Philosophy of Philosophy.Timothy Williamson - 2007 - Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. V. O. Quine - 2011 - In Robert B. Talisse & Scott F. Aikin (eds.), The Pragmatism Reader: From Peirce Through the Present. Princeton University Press. pp. 202-220.
What is inference?Paul Boghossian - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 169 (1):1-18.

View all 31 references / Add more references