Imaginative Blocks and Impossibility: An Essay in Modal Psychology

Shaun Nichols

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

29 Scopus citations


This chapter presents an account of the psychological underpinnings of moral judgment, based on considerations on moral judgment in children and on recent cognitivist approaches to the imagination. It argues that children's modal judgements often emerge from imaginative activities, suggesting that there is a causal connection between, for example, imaginative failures (of certain sorts) and judgements of impossibility. This causal pathway is also plausibly implicated in judgments of absolute impossibility. These more fundamental judgments derive from 'imaginative blocks', natural restrictions on the imagination. Those imaginative restrictions themselves can be explained by recent cognitivist approaches to the imagination, according to which imagination-representations will be processed by inferential mechanisms in the same way as isomorphic beliefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Architecture of the Imagination
Subtitle of host publicationNew Essays on Pretence, Possibility, and Fiction
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191706103
ISBN (Print)9780199275731
StatePublished - Sep 7 2006


  • Children
  • Cognitivist approach
  • Imagination
  • Modality
  • Moral judgement
  • Possibility
  • Single code

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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