Towards a dual process epistemology of imagination

Synthese (2):1-22 (2019)
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Abstract

Sometimes we learn through the use of imagination. The epistemology of imagination asks how this is possible. One barrier to progress on this question has been a lack of agreement on how to characterize imagination; for example, is imagination a mental state, ability, character trait, or cognitive process? This paper argues that we should characterize imagination as a cognitive ability, exercises of which are cognitive processes. Following dual process theories of cognition developed in cognitive science, the set of imaginative processes is then divided into two kinds: one that is unconscious, uncontrolled, and effortless, and another that is conscious, controlled, and effortful. This paper outlines the different epistemological strengths and weaknesses of the two kinds of imaginative process, and argues that a dual process model of imagination helpfully resolves or clarifies issues in the epistemology of imagination and the closely related epistemology of thought experiments.

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Author's Profile

Michael T. Stuart
University of York

Citations of this work

The material theory of induction and the epistemology of thought experiments.Michael T. Stuart - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 83 (C):17-27.
Imagination in Scientific Practice.Steven French - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (3):1-19.
How Imagination Informs.Joshua Myers - forthcoming - Philosophical Quarterly.

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References found in this work

Thinking, Fast and Slow.Daniel Kahneman - 2011 - New York: New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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