Imagination and counterfactual knowledge

In the coming three years, we will continue to investigate the central question that has guided the first phase of the project: How can we have knowledge of what is not actually, but merely possibly the case. And, relatedly, how could we ever justify our assumptions about what would happen if some other particular situation obtained? In the first project phase, we showed that a systematic answer to this question requires assigning an important role to the imagination – a quasi-perceptual representation of possible scenarios – in the acquisition of modal knowledge. However, there is currently no plausible theory of the imagination which explains this role for modal knowledge. We will fill this gap in the second phase of the project. First, we will investigate which forms of the imagination exist and how they differ from each other and related mental states. We will also look at the relationship between the imagination and scientific practices such as computer-aided visual simulations. Next, we will look at the ways in which cognitively valuable forms of the imagination differ from those types of creative simulation which lack immediate cognitive benefits. Our working hypothesis is that imagination can only lead to knowledge if it doesn't proceed lawlessly but is instead restricted by particular mechanisms. However, it is unclear precisely how this restriction functions for different forms of modal knowledge and what cognitive faculty produces it. Both questions deserve further investigation. Part of our investigation will concern one prominent conception of the imagination in the history of philosophy, namely Kant's theory of the ‚Einbildungskraft’. We will show the systematic potential of Kant's conception for the contemporary discussion of the cognitive value of the imagination.

Principal investigators
Rosefeldt, Tobias Prof. Dr. (Details) (Classical German Philosophy)
Dohrn, Daniel Harald Joachim PD Dr. phil. (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

DFG: Sachbeihilfe

Duration of project
Start date: 10/2015
End date: 02/2021

Daniel Dohrn
Im Erscheinen:
Simulation and the Predictive Brain, in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.
2020 Counterfactual Conditionals. Orthodoxy and Its Challenges, erscheint bei Mimesis, Mailand.
2020. Should Special Sience Laws Be Written into the Semantics of Counterfactuals, Kairos 22, 87-108
DOI 10.2478/kjps-2019–0010
2019a.Counterfactuals vs. Conceivability as a Guide to Modal Knowledge, Philosophical Studies (online
2019b Counterfactuals and Non-Exceptionalism about Modal Knowledge, Erkenntnis (online first)
2019c. Modal Epistemology Made Concrete, Philosophical Studies 176, 2455-2475.
2018a. La fantaisie, est-elle le privilege des seuls poètes? –Moritz Schlick on a ‘Sinnkriterium’ for thought experiments, Croatian Journal of Philosophy 18, 87-101
2018b. Moral Sentimentalism in Counterfactual Contexts: Moral Properties are Response-Enabled, Philoso-phia 46, 69-82
2018c. Thought Experiments without Possible Worlds, Philosophical Studies 175, 363-384.
2017a. Nobody Bodily Knows Possibility, The Journal of Philosophy 114, 678-686.
2017b. Is There an Incremental Reading of Conditionals?, Australasian Philosophical Review 1:2, 173-178.
2017c. Presuppositional Anaphora is the Sobel Truth, in: Domaneschi, P., Pistoia Reda S., hg., Linguistic and Psycholinguistic Approaches on Implicatures and Presuppositions, Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan, 199-238.
2016. Fiction and Thought Experiment. A Case Study, Teorema 35, 185-199
2015. Egan and Agents: How Evidential Decision Theory Could Deal with Egan’s Dilemma, Synthese 192, 1883-1908
2014. Empirie, Expertise, Analyse: Der Fall Gettier, in: Grundmann, T., Horvath., J., hg., Die experimentelle Philosophie in der Diskussion, Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 213-234.

Tobias Rosefeldt (Projektleiter)
2019a. Kant on the Epistemic Role of the Imagination. Synthese (online first)
2019b. Kant on Imagination and the Intuition of Time, in Pollok, K, Gentry, G., hg., The Imagination in Ger-man Idealism and Romanticism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 48-65.
2018. Real possibility and relation to an object. Remarks on Kant's Modal Metaphysics. European Journal of Philosophy 26, 1148-1152
2017. Counting Things that Could Exist. The Philosophical Quarterly 67/ 266, 127–147

Last updated on 2022-09-09 at 01:08