Voluntary imagination: a fine-grained analysis

Ilaria Canavotto, Franz Berto, Alessandro Giordani

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We study imagination as reality-oriented mental simulation (ROMS): the activity of simulating nonactual scenarios in one’s mind, to investigate what would happen if they were realized. Three connected questions concerning ROMS are: What is the logic, if there is one, of such an activity? How can we gain new knowledge via it? What is voluntary in it and what is not? We address them by building a list of core features of imagination as ROMS, drawing on research in cognitive psychology and the philosophy of mind. We then provide a logic of imagination as ROMS which models such features, combining techniques from epistemic logic, action logic, and subject matter semantics. Our logic comprises a modal propositional language with non-monotonic imagination operators, a formal semantics, and an axiomatization.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalThe Review of Symbolic Logic
VolumeFirst View
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jun 2020


  • Logic of imagination
  • Epistemology of imagination
  • Reality-oriented mental simulation
  • Aboutness
  • Topic-sensitive operators
  • Completeness


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