The propositional imagination

Shaun Nichols

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Propositional imagination is especially central to the philosophy of modality. It’s an old idea in philosophy that the imagination reveals possibilities. The propositional imagination also figures greatly in everyday life. Psychologists use it to understand others, to develop plans for action, and for hypothetical reasoning more broadly. The use of thought experiments is hardly restricted to antiquity. It is central to philosophical inquiries as diverse as reference and politics. In light of the background assumptions about representational theory of mind cognitive scientists and philosophers of psychology have largely arrived at a consensus for a basic cognitive account of the imagination. Many simulation theorists also defend the existence of pretend desires - imaginational states that are related to real desires in much the way that pretend beliefs are related to real beliefs. While some treatments of the paradox do not invoke considerations about the imagination, the literature on the paradox has raised several interesting questions about emotions and the imagination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Psychology
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780429521355
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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