Advertisement for a Sketch of an Outline of An Argument for Desire-like Imagination

June 25, 2008

Desire-like imagination, or I-Desire, is said to be analogous to desire in the same way that belief-like imagination, or imagination, is analogous to belief. There are a few different arguments for positing desire-like imagination in print. Greg Currie has given a few on the grounds of inference to the best explanation: he argues that desire-like imagination can best help us explain phenomena including affective response toward fiction and seemingly conflicting desires toward fiction (Currie and Ravenscroft 2002), and imaginative resistance (Currie 2002, in Gendler & Hawthorne). Tyler Doggett and Andy Egan similarly argue that desire-like imagination can best help us explain behaviors of pretenders who are immersed in the fiction of the pretense (Doggett and Egan 2007). I am unconvinced by these arguments and remain skeptical of desire-like imagination. But in a reading group today, I tried to provide a new motivation for positing desire-like imagination.

Take as the starting point the analogy at the beginning of this post: desire-like imagination is to desire as (belief-like) imagination is to belief. There is a tradition of differentiating belief and desire by their “directions of fit”. Belief is said to have a mind-to-world fit: the aim of belief is to represent a fact about the actual world. Desire is said to have a world-to-mind fit: the aim of desire is to make the world as the non-actual state of affairs represented. Arguably, we can also say that imagination has a direction of fit, at least when we are exercising the faculty in pretense or engagement with fiction. Imagination, I want to claim, has a mind-to-fictionality fit: the aim of imagination is to represent a fact about the (relevant) fictional world. The relationships between belief, desire, and imagination are summarized by the following table:

belief-like mental states desire-like mental states
real world belief (mind to world) desire (world to mind)
fictional world imagination (mind to fictionality) ???

Now it seems natural to fill out ??? with a mental state that is both desire-like and about the fictional world. Desire-like imagination fits. Following through with the analogies, desire-like imagination has a fictionality-to-mind direction of fit: the aim of desire-like imagination is to make the fictional world as the non-fictional state of affairs represented.

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An Argument for Counterpart Theory

June 3, 2008

[I have no idea if the following is at all novel or plausible.  Any feedback would be sweet!]

Here’s a puzzle.  David Lewis (1986) has argued for the following thesis:

L. Self-identity is not constituted, even in part, by having certain qualities.

Kit Fine (1994) argued for the following thesis:

F. An essential property of an object is any property that, in part, constitutes what it is to be that object.

Combining these two theses would seem to imply the following somewhat troubling thesis:

T. Objects do not have any qualities essentially.

I say that this thesis is troubling because, after all, it would seem to be part of, say, my essence that I have the quality of being human.[1] But how can it be both that I have no essential qualities and that being human is part of my essence? Let’s assume for the moment that we don’t want to reject either Lewis’s thesis or Fine’s thesis (I for one have been convinced by both authors). How then might we get out of trouble? Read the rest of this entry »