Sympathy for the Devil: The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance, the Role of Fiction in Moral Thought, and the Limits of the Imagination

Philosophy 96 (2):253-275 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

What are the limits of the imagination in morality? What role does fiction play in moral thought? My starting point in addressing these questions is Tamar Szabo Gendler's ‘puzzle of imaginative resistance’, the problem of explaining the special difficulties we seem to encounter in imagining to be right what we take to be morally wrong in fiction, and Gendler's claim that those difficulties are due to our unwillingness to imagine these things, rather than our inability to imagine what is logically or conceptually impossible. Using a wide range of examples, I argue that there is no puzzle of imaginative resistance and that to think that there is such a puzzle is to miss almost entirely the role fiction plays in moral thought. That, however, does not mean that there are no limits to what we can imagine in morality. In fact, I argue, the imagination is limited in morality, as elsewhere, by what is logically or conceptually possible. Together, those claims suggest that fiction and the imagination play a fundamental role in shaping our conception of the moral landscape. The paper concludes by drawing some of the consequences of these views for the nature of moral thought.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,452

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Imaginative resistance as imagistic resistance.Uku Tooming - 2017 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (5):684-706.
Morality, fiction, and possibility.Brian Weatherson - 2004 - Philosophers' Imprint 4:1-27.
The Puzzle of Imaginative Failure.Stuart Brock - 2012 - Philosophical Quarterly 62 (248):443-463.
Moral Imaginative Resistance to Heaven: Why the Problem of Evil is So Intractable.Chris Kramer - 2018 - de Ethica: Journal of Philosophical, Theological and Applied Ethics 1 (5):51-67.
The Puzzle of Imaginative Desire.Amy Kind - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (3):421-439.
The Content-Dependence of Imaginative Resistance.Hanna Kim, Markus Kneer & Michael T. Stuart - 2018 - In Florian Cova & Sébastien Réhault (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Aesthetics. London: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 143-166.
Belief and pretense: A reply to Gendler.Martijn Blaauw - 2006 - Metaphilosophy 37 (2):204-209.

Analytics

Added to PP
2022-11-21

Downloads
25 (#633,752)

6 months
11 (#350,042)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Edmund Dain
Providence College

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Tractatus logico-philosophicus.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1922 - Filosoficky Casopis 52:336-341.
The Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle - 1951 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 143:477-478.
The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance.Tamar Szabó Gendler - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):55.
The expression of feeling in imagination.Richard Moran - 1994 - Philosophical Review 103 (1):75-106.

View all 24 references / Add more references