Philosophical Studies

, Volume 143, Issue 2, pp 187–211 | Cite as

Imaginability, morality, and fictional truth: dissolving the puzzle of ‘imaginative resistance’



This paper argues that there is no genuine puzzle of ‘imaginative resistance’. In part 1 of the paper I argue that the imaginability of fictional propositions is relative to a range of different factors including the ‘thickness’ of certain concepts, and certain pre-theoretical and theoretical commitments. I suggest that those holding realist moral commitments may be more susceptible to resistance and inability than those holding non-realist commitments, and that it is such realist commitments that ultimately motivate the problem. However, I argue that the relativity of imaginability is not a particularly puzzling feature of imagination. In part 2, I claim that it is the so-called ‘alethic’ puzzle, concerning fictional truth, which generates a real puzzle about imaginative resistance. However, I argue that the alethic puzzle itself depends on certain realist assumptions about the nature of fictional truth which are implausible and should be rejected in favour of an interpretive view of fictional truth. Once this is done, I contend, it becomes evident that the supposed problem of imaginative resistance as it has hitherto been discussed in the literature is not puzzling at all.


Imagination Aesthetics Fiction Fictional truth Imaginative resistance Moral Judgement Conceptual impossibility Interpretation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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