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Friend, Stacie, , . Believing in Stories
2014, in Greg Currie, Matthew Kieran, Aaron Meskin, and Jon Robson (eds), Aesthetics and the Sciences of the Mind, Oxford University Press: 227-48.
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Summary:  There is a widespread assumption that we can learn facts from fiction: ordinary empirical facts about history, geography, society, biology, and so on. Although nothing about the nature of fiction precludes the acquisition of empirical knowledge, learning facts from fiction is far from straightforward. Fictional texts usually contain a mix of truths and falsehoods and are rarely vetted for accuracy. Readers should tread carefully in forming beliefs from fiction. Do they? According to various psychological studies, they do not. The evidence indicates that for some information, readers are at least as likely to believe what they read in fiction as in non-fiction. Friend claims that these results cast greater doubt on the possibility of empirical knowledge from fiction than standard objections in the literature. Drawing on work by Williamson and Sosa, she proposes that we meet this challenge by appeal to the competences exercised in reading fiction.

Comment: This paper concerns how we can learn from fiction, and it would be suitable as a required reading in a module on that topic.

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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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