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Belief and Imagination

Davis, Jack Frank; (2018) Belief and Imagination. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

Two assumptions are often made about the nature of the cognitive attitudes that allow us to engage with fiction and in pretence: the uniformity and the non-doxastic assumptions. The uniformity assumption tells us that both of these activities involve the same cognitive attitudes. The non-doxastic assumption tells us that these cognitive attitudes are not beliefs, but belief-like states that we can call belief-like imaginings. I will challenge both of these assumptions in this thesis. In the case of the uniformity assumption, I will draw a distinction between voluntary and involuntary imaginative counterparts. I will argue that if a belief-like counterpart is involved in our engagement in pretence, it will be a voluntary counterpart, whereas an involuntary one will have to be associated with our engagement with fiction. Against the non-doxastic assumption, I will argue that we can explain our engagement with these activities by introducing beliefs with distinct contents. In the case of pretence, I will suggest that the relevant beliefs are of the form ‘[I believe] I PRETEND that “p”’. In the case of fiction, I will argue that the relevant beliefs are of the form ‘I believe p [in the fiction]’. This will lead to us challenging the non-doxastic assumption on the grounds that belief-like imaginings are unnecessary for explaining how we are able to engage with fiction and in pretence. I will also offer some arguments for why belief-like imaginings might be insufficient for explaining how we are able to engage with fiction and in pretence. In particular, I will argue that belief-like imaginings do not do enough to explain how we recognise when someone else is engaging in pretence, and that they struggle to make sense of why our representations related to fiction and pretence exhibit what Walton calls ‘clustering’.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Belief and Imagination
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10049327
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