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Thinking About Different Nonexistents of the Same Kind: Reid's Account of the Imagination and its Nonexistent Objects

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How is it that, as fiction readers, we are nonplussed by J. K. Rowling's prescription to imagine Ronan, Bane, and Magorian, three different centaurs of the Forbidden Forrest at Hogwarts? It is usually held in the philosophical literature on fictional discourse that singular imaginings of fictional objects are impossible, given the blatant nonexistence of such objects. In this paper, I have a dual purpose: (i) on the one hand, to show that, without being committed to Meinongeanism, we can explain the phenomenon of singular imaginings of different nonexistents of the same (fictional) kind; (ii) while, at the same time, to attribute this position to Thomas Reid, thus correcting some misunderstandings of his view on imagination.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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