My research is in philosophy of mind and in particular the philosophy of imagination. Noël Carroll has referred to the imagination as the "junkyard of the mind," a place where everything gets put in. Much of my current work aims to tidy up this junkyard.
In the past twenty years or so, there has been a burgeoning philosophical interest in the imagination. The current research lies at the crossroads of various sub-disciplines of philosophy, including aesthetics, moral psychology, ethics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind. My work joins this choir as a voice from within philosophy of mind. My current research takes two tracks. On the first, I offer a new theory about the proper relation between supposing and imagining. On the second, I aim to deepen our understanding of the nature of imaginative resistance. Below are the abstracts for three papers, one that is forthcoming and two more that are under review.
1.“Imaginative Resistance and Variation” British Journal of Aesthetics (forthcoming)
Imaginative resistance is roughly a phenomenon that is characterized by either an inability or an unwillingness to imagine some proposition. It has been noted that this phenomenon varies from person to person and from context to context. Call this feature of the phenomenon Variation. Philosophers are now treating Variation as an explanandum and offering accounts that can explain it. For instance, many have offered accounts that focus on contextual factors, especially genre, in attempting to explain variation. Hence, I label them Contextual Variant Views of imaginative resistance. While such views make progress in explaining Variation, they are still incomplete. This is because, as I will argue, Variation runs deeper than previously acknowledged. As a result, we see that contextual factors are too coarse to explain all of Variation. As a solution, I propose, what I call the Constraint Variant View of imaginative resistance. I argue that this view is able to account for all of Variation.
2. “Is Supposing a kind of imagining?” (Under Review)
How should we characterize the relation between supposition and imagination? Call this the Relation Question. Very broadly, there are two types of views that attempt to answer this question—what I will call one-nature views and two-nature views. Each of these views offer what we might call a conceptual model for how to characterize the relation. Two-nature views hold that supposition and imagination are distinct mental capacities. According to such views, supposition is not a kind of imagining. In contrast, current one-nature views argue that supposing is somehow a kind of imagining. In this paper, I argue that all current one-nature views incur too high of costs in taking supposing to be a kind of imagining. Further, I argue that we need to disambiguate between two senses of ‘supposing’ that are in the literature. Once we do this, we make room for a new one-nature view, one that I defend and develop in this paper. As I argue, this view does not incur the same costs as current one-nature views.
3.“Implicit Imaginative Resistance” (Under Review)
Imaginative resistance is roughly a kind of imaginative failure. It happens when one is either unwilling or unable to comply with an author’s request to imagine some content. Most of the current literature focuses on explicit propositions and scenarios that are purported to trigger imaginative resistance. In this paper, I argue that there is an implicit dimension to imaginative resistance. This reveals that the original phenomenon is more elusive than originally thought. As I also argue, this implicit dimension makes it harder to be skeptical about the phenomenon of imaginative resistance.