Imagining Under Constraints

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Claremont McKenna College, Philosophy (CMC)

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As Hume famously claimed, we are nowhere more free than in our imagination. While this feature of imagination suggests that imagination has a crucial role to play in modal epistemology, it also suggests that imagining cannot provide us with any non-modal knowledge about the world in which we live. This chapter rejects this latter suggestion. Instead it offers an account of “imagining under constraints,” providing a framework for showing when and how an imaginative project can play a justificatory role with respect to our beliefs about the world. That we can be free in our imaginings does not show that they must proceed unfettered; as is argued, our ability to constrain our imaginings in light of facts about the world enables us to learn from them. The important upshot is that imagination has considerably more epistemic significance than previously thought.

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© 2016 Oxford University Press