Accuracy in imagining


Imaginative aim
Imaginative skill

How to Cite

Accuracy in imagining. (2024). Philosophy and the Mind Sciences, 5.


Recent treatments of imagination have increasingly treated imagining as a skill. Insofar as imaginative accuracy is one of the factors that underwrites this skill, it is important to understand what it means to say that an imagining is accurate. This paper takes up that task. The discussion proceeds in four parts. First, I address two worries that may naturally arise about the coherence of the notion of imaginative accuracy. Second, with those worries addressed, I turn to an exploration of what is meant by imaginative accuracy. My discussion relies on two key points: first, that accuracy is best understood in terms of aim; and second, that imaginings aim at the representation of fictional states of affairs. I call this line of thought the fictionality approach. Third, I look more closely at six different types of imaginings in an effort to develop and clarify the fictionality approach. Finally, I turn to what I call the calibration objection. Given the nature of imagination, there seems to be no way to calibrate one’s judgments of imaginative accuracy. After showing how much of the force of the calibration objection can be defused, I offer some brief concluding remarks.



Arcangeli, M. (2020). The two faces of mental imagery. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 101(2), 304–322.

Badura, C., & Kind, A. (Eds.). (2021). Epistemic uses of imagination. Routledge.

Blomkvist, A. (2022). Imagination as a skill: A bayesian proposal. Synthese, 200(2), 119.

Chasid, A. (2017). Imaginative content, design-assumptions and immersion. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 8(2), 259–272.

Cummins, R. (1998). Reflection on reflective equilibrium. In M. De Paul & W. Ramsey (Eds.), Rethinking intuition (pp. 113–128). Rowman; Littlefield.

Currie, G., & Ravenscroft, I. (2002). Recreative minds. Oxford University Press.

Dorsch, F. (2012). The unity of imagining. De Gruyter.

Duff, W. (1767). An essay on original genius. Edward; Charles Dilly.

Friend, S. (2008). Imagining fact and fiction. In K. Stock & K. Thomson-Jones (Eds.), New waves in aesthetics (pp. 150–169). Palgrave Macmillan.

Goldman, A. (2006). Simulating minds: The philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience of mindreading. Oxford University Press.

Hutto, D. D. (2015). Overly enactive imagination? Radically re‐imagining imagining. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 53(S1), 68–89.

Ickes, W. (Ed.). (1997). Empathic empathy. Guildford Press.

Kind, A. (2001). Putting the image back in imagination. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62(1), 85–109.

Kind, A. (2016a). Imagining under constraints. In A. Kind & P. Kung (Eds.), Knowledge through imagination (pp. 145–159). Oxford University Press.

Kind, A. (2016b). Introduction: Exploring imagination. In A. Kind (Ed.), Routledge handbook of philosophy of imagination (pp. 1–11). Routledge.

Kind, A. (2016c). The snowman’s imagination. American Philosophical Quarterly, 53(4), 341–348.

Kind, A. (2020). The skill of imagination. In C. Pavese & E. Fridland (Eds.), Routledge handbook of skill and expertise (pp. 335–346). Routledge.

Kind, A. (2022). Imagination and creative thinking (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Kind, A., & Kung, P. (2016). Introduction: The puzzle of imaginative use. In A. Kind & P. Kung (Eds.), Knowledge through imagination (pp. 1–37). Oxford University Press.

Kripke, S. (1980). Naming and necessity. Harvard University Press.

Langland-Hassan, P. (2020). Explaining imagination (1st ed.). Oxford University PressOxford.

Liao, S., & Gendler, T. (2020). Imagination. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2020). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.

McGinn, C. (2004). Mindsight: Image, dream, meaning. Harvard University Press.

Munro, D. (2021). Imagining the actual. Philosophers' Imprint, 21(17), 1–21.

Munro, D., & Strohminger, M. (2021). Are we free to imagine what we choose? Synthese, 199(5-6), 11847–11864.

Pettigrew, R. (2016). Accuracy and the laws of credence. Oxford University Press.

Russell, B. (2020). A priori justification and knowledge. In E. N. Zalta & U. Nodelman (Eds.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Summer 2020). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.

Schwartz, R. (2016). Perceptual veridicality. Philosophical Topics, 44(2), 381–403.

Silins, N. (2021). Perceptual experience and perceptual justification. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2021). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.

Van Leeuwen, N. (2013). The meanings of “imagine” part I: Constructive imagination. Philosophy Compass, 8(3), 220–230.

Velleman, D. (2000). On the aim of belief. In The possibility of practical reason (pp. 241–280). Oxford University Press.

Walton, K. (1990). Mimesis as make-believe. Harvard University Press.

Williams, B. (1973). Deciding to believe. In Problems of the self (pp. 136–151). Cambridge.

Wiltsher, N. (2019). Imagination: A lens, not a mirror. Philosophers' Imprint, 19(30), 1–30.

Wittgenstein, L. (1980). Remarks on the philosophy of psychology: Vol. II (G. H. Von Wright & K. Nyman, Eds.). Chicago University Press.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2024 Amy Kind