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Gendler, Tamar. The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance
2000, Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):55-81
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Added by: Andrea Blomqvist, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: This chapter presents and discusses the puzzle of imaginative resistance: the puzzle of explaining our comparative difficulty in imagining fictional worlds that we take to be morally deviant. It suggests that the primary source of imaginative resistance lies not in our inability to imagine morally deviant situations, but in our unwillingness to do so. This diagnosis is then used to illuminate the nature of imagination itself: unlike belief, the contents of imagination are not restricted to those things we take to be true; but unlike mere supposition, imagination involves a certain sort of engaged participation on the part of the imaginer. The chapter also includes a brief discussion of the issue of truth‐in‐fiction. The author’s views on the puzzle are contrasted with those of David Hume, Richard Moran, and Kendall Walton.

Comment: Gendler argues here that there is truly a problem of imaginative restistance, and that it demonstrates something about the nature of imagination. This is a good introductory paper to the problem of imaginative resistance and the nature of imagination. It would be very suitable in a module focusing on philosophy of fiction.

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Shah, Nishi. How Truth Governs Belief
2003, Philosophical Review 112 (4): 447-482.
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Added by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: Why, when asking oneself whether to believe that p, must one immediately recognize that this question is settled by, and only by, answering the question whether p is true? Truth is not an optional end for first-personal doxastic deliberation, providing an instrumental or extrinsic reason that an agent may take or leave at will. Otherwise there would be an inferential step between discovering the truth with respect to p and determining whether to believe that p, involving a bridge premise that it is good (in whichever sense of good one likes, moral, prudential, aesthetic, allthings-considered, etc.) to believe the truth with respect to p. But there is no such gap between the two questions within the first-personal deliberative perspective; the question whether to believe that p seems to collapse into the question whether p is true.

Comment: This text will be most useful in advanced Epistemology, Philosophy of Mind, Metaethics and Philosophy of Action classes. The core argument of should be manageable for students who have read a bit of epistemology/metaethics/mind, but substantial familiarity with these areas is necessary to get the paper as a whole. The paper is also valuable for its critique of Alan Gibbard’s noncognitivist account of normative judgments and J. David Velleman’s teleological account of truth’s normative governance of belief (Diversifying Syllabi).

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