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Against the Additive View of Imagination

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According to the additive view of sensory imagination, mental imagery often involves two elements. There is an image-like element, which gives the experiences qualitative phenomenal character akin to that of perception. There is also a non-image element, consisting of something like suppositions about the image's object. This accounts for extra-sensory features of imagined objects and situations: for example, it determines whether an image of a grey horse is an image of Desert Orchid, or of some other grey horse. The view promises to give a simple and intuitive explanation of some puzzling features of imagination, and, further, to illuminate imagination's relation to modal knowledge. I contend that the additive view does not fulfil these two promises. The explanation of how images come to be determinate is redundant: the content constituting the indeterminate mental images on which the view relies is sufficient to deliver determinate images too, so the extra resources offered by the view are not required. When applied to modal epistemology, the view either delivers implausible results or offers no distinctive insight. Since the view is sold on its explanatory merits, and since these are dubious, the additive view should be rejected.
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Keywords: additive view; conceivability; imagination; mental imagery; modal epistemology; sensory imagination

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul,

Publication date: 02 April 2016

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