In the first half of this book, I offer a theory of fictional content or, as it is sometimes known, ‘fictional truth’.The theory of fictional content I argue for is ‘extreme intentionalism’. The basic idea – very roughly, in ways which are made precise in the book - is that the fictional content of a particular text is equivalent to exactly what the author of the text intended the reader to imagine. The second half of the book is concerned with (...) showing how extreme intentionalism and the lessons learnt from it can illuminate cognate questions in the philosophy of fiction and imagination. For instance, I argue, my position helps us to explain how fiction can provide us with reliable testimony ; it helps explain the phenomenon of imaginative resistance ; and it fits with, and so supports, a persuasive theory of the nature of fiction itself. In my final chapter, I show how attending to intentionalist practices of interpreting fictional content can illuminate the nature of propositional imagining itself. (shrink)
I trace a brief history of philosophical discussion of the concept WOMAN and identify two key points at which, I argue, things went badly wrong. The first was where when it was agreed that the concept WOMAN must identify a social not biological kind. The second was where it was decided that the concept WOMAN faced a legitimate challenge of being insufficiently “inclusive”, understood in a certain way. I’ll argue that both of these moves are only intelligible, if at all, (...) in the context of an anti-naturalist picture drawn from either post-structuralism or radical feminism. They become incoherent when adopted by methodological naturalists, who – especially when concerned to track oppression and discrimination – have no good reason to deny that WOMAN refers to a pre-given, biological kind. (shrink)
I defend an account of sexual orientation, understood as a reflexive disposition to be sexually attracted to people of a particular biological Sex or Sexes. An orientation is identified in terms of two aspects: the Sex of the subject who has the disposition, and whether that Sex is the same as, or different to, the Sex to which the subject is disposed to be attracted. I explore this account in some detail and defend it from several challenges. In doing so, (...) I provide a theoretical framework that justifies our continued reference to Sex-directed sexual orientation as an important means of classifying human subjects. (shrink)
A popular approach to defining fictive utterance says that, necessarily, it is intended to produce imagining. I shall argue that this is not falsified by the fact that some fictive utterances are intended to be believed, or are non-accidentally true. That this is so becomes apparent given a proper understanding of the relation of what one imagines to one's belief set. In light of this understanding, I shall then argue that being intended to produce imagining is sufficient for fictive utterance (...) as well. (shrink)
Recently, philosophers have identified certain fictional propositions with which one does not imaginatively engage, even where one is transparently intended by their authors to do so. One approach to explaining this categorizes it as 'resistance', that is, as deliberate failure to imagine that the relevant propositions are true; the phenomenon has become generally known (misleadingly) as 'the puzzle of imaginative resistance'. I argue that this identification is incorrect, and I dismiss several other explanations. I then propose a better one, that (...) in central cases of imaginative failure, the basis for the failure is the contingent incomprehensibility of the relevant propositions. Why the phenomenon is especially commonplace with respect to moral propositions is illuminated along the way. (shrink)
In this paper, I survey in some depth three issues arising from the connection between imagination and fiction: (i) whether fiction can be defined as such in terms of its prescribing imagining; (ii) whether imagining in response to fiction is de se, or de re, or both; (iii) the phenomenon of ‘imaginative resistance’ and various explanations for it. Along the way I survey, more briefly, several other prominent issues in this area too.
What is fiction? It permeates contemporary life: via novels we read, stories we tell, box-sets we watch, and as philosophers, thought experiments we use. Many think it should be characterised in terms of a relation to the imagination. In this essay, I’ll consider prominent expressions of this view, as well as rejections of it. Before this, I’ll introduce two methodological approaches that it’s helpful to distinguish.
This chapter defends a theory of objectification, conceiving of it as a species of what aestheticians have called ‘seeing‐as’, and more specifically, a kind of seeing‐as which to some degree is insensitive to the mind or mental aspects. An advantage of this view is that it covers both sexual and racial objectification, and can also explain how photographic images can objectify their subjects: namely, by encouraging the viewer to view in a way insensitive to the mind or mental aspects of (...) the subject. It also explains in what context objectification to can be harmless. This view is discussed in relation to several others. (shrink)
I am extremely grateful to all commentators for such patient, generous, and stimulating contributions. What follows are some thoughts to enrich the conversation, but these are by no means intended to be definitive answers to the worries they have raised.
In order for true beliefs acquired from reading fiction to count as knowledge proper, they must survive ‘the challenge from luck’. That is, it must be established that such beliefs are neither luckily true, nor luckily believed by readers. The author considers three kinds of true belief a reader may, she assumes, get from reading fiction: a) those based on testimony about empirical facts; b) those based on ‘true in passing’ sentences; and c) those beliefs about counterfactuals one may get (...) from reading a ‘didactic’ fiction. The first group escape the challenge from luck relatively easily, she argues. However, things turn out to be more complicated with the second group. The author examines Mitchell Green’s suggestion, effectively, that knowledge of fictional genre may see off the challenge from luck here, but rejects this in the form presented by Green, adapting it substantially to offer beliefs of this kind a more promising escape route. The author finishes by following Green’s lead once again, and discussing the category of ‘didactic’ fiction, as he calls it. She argues that any true beliefs about counterfactuals gained from such fictions are likely to be lucky. The author concludes however that things are much more promising for any true beliefs gained about oneself as a result of engaging with what Green calls an ‘interrogative’ fiction. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the frequently made claim that grasping a metaphor is a kind of ‘seeing-as’. I describe several ways in which it might be thought that metaphor-grasping is importantly similar to seeing-as, such that an extension of the latter category is though justified to include the former. For some of these similarities, I suggest they are illusory; for others, I argue that they are shared in virtue of the membership of both seeing-as and metaphor-grasping in some much (...) broader category, and so don’t obviously motivate thinking of metaphor-grasping as seeing-as. My aim is modest: not to deny that metaphor-grasping is a kind of seeing-as, but only to suggest that it should not be too quickly accepted. (shrink)
Philosophers on Music: Experience, Meaning, and Work presents significant new contributions to central issues in the philosophy of music, written by leading philosophers working in the analytic tradition. The issues tackled include: the question of what sort of thing a work of music is; the nature of the relation between a musical work and versions of it; the nature of musical expression and its contribution to musical experience; the relation of music to metaphor; the nature of musical irony; the musical (...) status of electro-sonic art; and the nature of musical rhythm. Aestheticians, musicologists, music practitioners, and those interested in philosophy generally will find the papers in this volume rewarding reading. (shrink)
It has seemed to some compelling that construing imagining in relation to fictional events as imagining being aware of those events provides a good explanation of our emotional responses to them. Call this ‘the argument from affective response’. Versions of this argument have been advanced by Kendall Walton and Jerrold Levinson. A more localised version of it, with respect to pornography, is that construing imagining in relation to events represented in pornography as imagining being aware of them provides a good (...) explanation of subsequent arousal. Compelling as this may seem, I argue that it is false. I start by making some distinctions between different kinds of imagining de se, and then focus on the claim that there is a connection between emotional engagement with fiction and implicitly imagining de se, making it more precise in the light of various plausible considerations. I then turn to the case of pornography, examining and rejecting three possible arguments for a necessary connection between imagining, from the inside, being aware of represented events, and being aroused by them. Since versions of these arguments might equally be applied to affective response to fiction more generally, I take it that I have thereby gone at least part way to undermining the argument from affective response. (shrink)
This paper concerns the familiar topic of whether we can have genuinely emotional responses such as pity and fear to characters and situations we believe to be fictional1. As is well known, Kendall Walton responds in the negative (Walton (1978); (1990): 195-204 and Chapter 7; (1997)). That is, he is an ‘irrealist’ about emotional responses to fiction (the term is Gaut’s (2003): 15), arguing that such responses should be construed as quasiemotions (Walton (1990): 245), of which their possessor imagines that (...) they are genuine emotions. This is not to deny that an experience in response to a fiction may have a phenomenology very like a given emotion, but to insist that, nonetheless, such responses are not real instances of the emotions which they resemble (Walton (1997)). So, in his most famous example, Charles, who experiences fear-like emotion in relation to a film which depicts the approach of evil slime, does not, despite appearances, experience genuine fear towards the slime, but only quasi-fear (Walton (1990): 195-204)2. Walton’s view presupposes the following view about the nature of emotion3. (shrink)
My topic is a certain view about mental images: namely, the ‘Multiple Use Thesis’. On this view, at least some mental image-types, individuated in terms of the sum total of their representational content, are potentially multifunctional: a given mental image-type, individuated as indicated, can serve in a variety of imaginative-event-types. As such, the presence of an image is insufficient to individuate the content of those imagination-events in which it may feature. This picture is argued for, or (more usually) just assumed (...) to be true, by Christopher Peacocke, Michael Martin, Paul Noordhof, Bernard Williams, Alan White, and Tyler Burge. It is also presupposed by more recent authors on imagination such as Amy Kind, Peter Kung and Neil Van Leeuwen. I reject various arguments for the Multiple Use Thesis, and conclude that instead we should endorse SINGLE: a single image-type, individuated in terms of the sum total of its intrinsic representational content, can serve in only one imagination event-type, whose content coincides exactly with its own, and is wholly determined by it. Plausibility aside, the interest of this thesis is also in its iconoclasm, as well as the challenge it poses for the diverse theories that rest on the truth of the Multiple Use Thesis. (shrink)
This entry considers the question “What is objectification?” After preliminary remarks about different methodological approaches, several possible answers, or groups of answers, are introduced, separated out in terms of broad themes. Each is situated in relation to historical and more contemporary authors. These themes are: objectification as instrumentalization; objectification as reduction to the body; objectification as negation of subjectivity or agency; objectification as naturalization. Objectification is considered in relation to both sexual and racial contexts. Finally, these themes are discussed in (...) relation to the wider category of “mind suppression,” and its relation to objectification in the familiar context of imagery. (shrink)
In his article ‘ Fantasy, Imagination and the Screen ’ , Roger Scruton offers an account of fantasy, arguing that it is directed away from reality in some important sense, and that cinema is its natural representational medium. I address certain problems with Scruton’s basic account, thereby producing a signifi cantly amended version, though one that owes a great debt to his. I explain why, as he says, much fantasy is signifi cantly directed away from reality; and conclude with some (...) brief remarks about.. (shrink)
This chapter considers the phenomenon of free indirect style, and what imaginative response it calls for from the reader who encounters it in a fiction. Two ‘single voice’ theories of free indirect style are discussed: one which argues that we should hear FIS only as implying the voice of a character whose experience is being evoked, and another which argues that we should hear FIS only as implying the voice of a narrator describing the experience of a character. This chapter (...) argues instead that the reader is called upon both to imagine from the inside the experience of a character, and that a narrator reports that experience; and that there is nothing incoherent or imaginatively challenging about this. Along the way, the chapter considers the relevance of this view to Goldie’s discussion of autobiographical memory ‘integrating’ ‘external and internal perspectives’ in The Mess Inside. (shrink)
In Art as Performance , David Davies identifies certain properties relevant to artistic appreciation of artworks that, he suggests, are naturally construed as belonging to the artist’s creative performance rather than to any product of that performance (the “work-product”). He further argues, against an anticipated opponent, that such properties cannot be excluded as irrelevant to artistic appreciation in any principled way. I argue that the cited properties can be intelligibly construed as properties of the associated work-product, whether or not they (...) are relevant to artistic appreciation; but that some are not relevant to artistic appreciation. In doing so, I offer a principle determining when a property of an artwork is relevant to artistic appreciation. I conclude that, on its own, Davies’s argument offers no good grounds to abandon our practice of thinking of the artwork as the product of an artist’s activity, rather than the activity itself. (shrink)
Leading young scholars present a collection of wide-ranging essays covering central problems in meta-aesthetics and aesthetic issues in the philosophy of mind, as well as offering analyses of key aesthetic concepts, new perspectives on the history of aesthetics, and specialized treatment of individual art forms.