SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Imagining Negative Existentials
(Philosophy of Mind, English)

I argue that the view defended by, e.g. Amy Kind in "Putting the image back in imagination", that imagination essentially involves mental imagery leads to a dilemma. Concerning mental imagery, there are two major positions: pictorialism and descriptionalism. Pictorialists hold that mental imagery represents just like pictures do (or songs for auditary imaginings), whereas descriptionalists hold that mental imagery represents just like language does.
The first horn, I argue, is that on a pictorialist view of mental imagery to have mental images of negative existentials, we have to commit to absences and hence an ontologically dubious position, or we have a notion of imagination that is not suitable for justifying possibility claims. The argument is based on the claim (which I will argue for) that on a pictorialist view, the only way our imaginings are guides to possibility is to assume that the imagining has as a content which is composed of contents we have or can in principle be perceived. This can only guide us to the possibility of negative existentials if we assume that absences or negative states of affairs can be perceived, which is ontologically dubious.
The second horn is that on a descriptionalist view of mental imagery we can easily have mental images of negative existentials. This is due to the fact that for representing linguistically, there are no constraints on imagining and thus, imagining collapses into supposition. Thus, this way of imagining is no evidence for possibility of the negative existential (or almost any possibility). Thus, we either need to accept a dubious ontology, or we arrive at a notion of imagination that is unsuited for modal epistemology.

Chair: Franz Altner
Time: 11:10-11:40, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.004

Christopher Badura 
(Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany)

Since July 2016, I am a doctoral researcher at the Ruhr-University Bochum supervised by Heinrich Wansing and Francesco Berto. My research concerns what imagination is, its role in modal epistemology and the logic of imagination. In 2016, I finished the Master of Logic programme at the Institute for Logic, Language, and Computation in Amsterdam with a thesis on truth in fiction, supervised by Francesco Berto. My Bachelor's in Philosophy I obtained at the University of Hamburg with a thesis on Peter van Inwagen's argument for fictional realism, supervised by Benjamin Schnieder.

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