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Liao, Shen-yi, , Gendler, Tamar Szabó. Pretense and Imagination
2011, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews 2 (1):79-94.
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Abstract: Issues of pretense and imagination are of central interest to philosophers, psychologists, and researchers in allied fields. In this entry, we provide a roadmap of some of the central themes around which discussion has been focused. We begin with an overview of pretense, imagination, and the relationship between them. We then shift our attention to the four specific topics where the disciplines’ research programs have intersected or where additional interactions could prove mutually beneficial: the psychological underpinnings of performing pretense and of recognizing pretense, the cognitive capacities involved in imaginative engagement with fictions, and the real-world impact of make-believe. In the final section, we discuss more briefly a number of other mental activities that arguably involve imagining, including counterfactual reasoning, delusions, and dreaming.

Comment: Imagination and pretense are closely related concepts. This article could be used in teaching to get students thinking about the relationship, as well as introduce them to the vast psychological research that has been done on pretense play.

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Spaulding, Shannon, , . Imagination Through Knowledge
2016, In Amy Kind & Peter Kung (eds.), Knowledge Through Imagination. Oxford University Press. pp. 207-226 (2016)
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Abstract: Imagination seems to play an epistemic role in philosophical and scientific thought experiments, mindreading, and ordinary practical deliberations insofar as it generates new knowledge of contingent facts about the world. However, it also seems that imagination is limited to creative generation of ideas. Sometimes we imagine fanciful ideas that depart freely from reality. The conjunction of these claims is what I call the puzzle of knowledge through imagination. This chapter aims to resolve this puzzle. I argue that imagination has an epistemic role to play, but it is limited to the context of discovery. Imagination generates ideas, but other cognitive capacities must be employed to evaluate these ideas in order for them to count as knowledge. Consideration of the Simulation Theory’s so-called ‘threat of collapse’ provides further evidence that imagination does not, on its own, yield new knowledge of contingent facts, and it suggests a way to supplement imagination in order to get such knowledge.

Comment: This is a relatively difficult paper, but it deals with the interesting topic of whether we can get knowledge through imagination. It would be suitable to suggest as a further reading for senior year undergraduate students.

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Spaulding, Shannon, , . Mirror Neurons and Social Cognition
2013, Mind and Language 28 (2):233-257
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Abstract: Mirror neurons are widely regarded as an important key to social cognition. Despite such wide agreement, there is very little consensus on how or why they are important. The goal of this paper is to clearly explicate the exact role mirror neurons play in social cognition. I aim to answer two questions about the relationship between mirroring and social cognition: What kind of social understanding is involved with mirroring? How is mirroring related to that understanding? I argue that philosophical and empirical considerations lead us to accord a fairly minimal role for mirror neurons in social cognition.

Comment: What processes enable mindreading is a prominent debate in social cognition. A view that has been proposed in recent years is that mirror neurons play a role in mindreading (for example suggested by Goldman, 2006). However, exactly which conclusions mirror neuron research allows us to draw is controversial, and here Spaulding provides interesting objections to a prominent mirror neuron study. This paper is particularly suitable in a social cognition module.

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