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Abstract: You’re imagining, in the course of a different game of make-believe, that you’re a bank robber. You don’t believe that you’re a bank robber. You are moved to point your finger, gun-wise, at the person pretending to be the bank teller and say, “Stick ‘em up! This is a robbery!”
Abstract: I had a structural worry about the relation of Gaita’s three chapters on truth, interesting though these chapters are, to the rest of Gaita’s project. And I had some residual questions left after reading the book: What are persons? How do we know when we are encountering one, and when are we justified (we must be sometimes: compare the various sorts of animal) in a decision that something we encounter is not a person? Do evil actions always involve a sort of blindness to what is being done? If so, how easy is it to explain how agents who do evil can be held responsible for their cognitive deficiencies? These may of course be questions that Gaita was not trying to answer; but in any case, as I hope I have conveyed, I found A Common Humanity a striking and revelatory read, and I warmly recommend it
Abstract: By the age of two, children are able to engage in highly elaborate games of symbolic pretense, in which objects and actions in the actual world are taken to stand for objects and actions in a realm of make-believe. These games of pretense are marked by the presence of two central features, which I will call quarantining and mirroring (see also Leslie 1987; Perner 1991). Quarantining is manifest to the extent that events within the pretense-episode are taken to have effects only within that pretense-episode (e.g. the child does not expect that ‘spilling’ ( pretend) ‘tea’1 will result in the table really being wet), or more generally, to the extent that proto-beliefs and proto-attitudes concerning the pretended state of affairs are not treated as beliefs and attitudes relevant to guiding action in the actual world. Mirroring is manifest to the extent that features of the imaginary situation that have not been explicitly stipulated are derivable via features of their real-world analogues (e.g. the child does expect that if she up-ends the teapot above the table, then the table will become wet in the pretense), or, more generally to the extent that imaginative content is taken to be governed by the same sorts of restrictions that govern believed content
Abstract: I propose that paradigmatic cases of self-deception satisfy the following conditions: (a) the person who is self-deceived about not-P pretends (in the sense of makes-believe or imagines or fantasizes) that not-P is the case, often while believing that P is the case and not believing that not-P is the case; (b) the pretense that not-P largely plays the role normally played by belief in terms of (i) introspective vivacity and (ii) motivation of action in a wide range of circumstances. Understanding self-deception in this way is highly natural. And it provides a non- paradoxical characterization of the phenomenon that explains both its distinctive patterns of instability and its ordinary association with irrationality. Why, then, has this diagnosis been overlooked? I suggest that the oversight is due to a failure to recognize the philosophical significance of a crucial fact about the human mind, namely, the degree to which attitudes other than belief often play a central role in our mental and practical lives, both by “influenc[ing our]. . . passions and imagination,” and by “governing. . .our actions.”
Abstract: Iteration presents opposing puzzles for a theory of the imagination. The first puzzle, noted by David Lewis, is that when a person pretends to pretend, the iteration is often preserved. Let’s call this the puzzle of ‘pre- served iteration’. At the other pole, Gregory Currie has noted that very often when we pretend to pretend, the iteration does collapse. We might call this the puzzle of ‘collapsed iteration’. Somehow a theory of the imagination must be able to address these two puzzles. I argue that an empirically inspired cognitive theory of the imagination (Nichols & Stich 2000) can accommodate both puzzles
Abstract: Imaginative representations are crucial to the generation of action--both pretense and plain action. But well-known theories of imagination on offer in the literature  fail to describe how perceptually-formatted imaginings (mental images) and motor imaginings function in the generation of action and  fail to recognize the important fact that spatially rich imagining can be integrated into one's perceptual manifold. In this paper, I present a theory of imagining that shows how spatially rich imagining functions in the generation of action. I also describe the imaginative structures behind two under-explored forms of action: semi-pretense and pretense layering. In addition, I suggest that my theory of imagining meshes better than the competitors with current work in cognitive and affective neuroscience.
Abstract: This paper claims that the standard characterization of the motivational role of belief should be supplemented. Beliefs do not only, jointly with desires, cause and rationalize actions that will satisfy the desires, if the beliefs are true; beliefs are also the practical ground of other cognitive attitudes, like imagining, which means beliefs determine whether and when one acts with those other attitudes as the cognitive inputs into choices and practical reasoning. In addition to arguing for this thesis, I take issue with Velleman's argument that belief and imagining cannot be distinguished on the basis of motivational role.
Abstract: Thought experiments have a mysterious way of informing us about the world, apparently without examining it, yet with a great degree of certainty. It is tempting to try to explain this capacity by making use of the idea that in thought experiments, the mind somehow simulates the processes about which it reaches conclusions. Here, I test this idea. I argue that when they predict the outcomes of hypothetical physical situations, thought experiments cannot simulate physical processes. They use mental models, which should not be confused with process-driven simulations. A convincing case can be made that thought experiments about hypothetical mental processes are mental simulations. Concerning moral thought experiments, I argue that construing them as simulations of mental processes favours certain moral theories over others. The scope of mental simulation in thought experiments is primarily limited by the constraint of relevant similarity on source and target processes: on one hand, this constraint disqualifies thought from simulating external natural processes; on the other hand, it is a source of epistemic bias in moral thought experiments. In view of these results, I conclude that thought experiments and mental simulations cannot be assimilated as means of acquiring knowledge.