The epistemic imagination revisited

Ori Kinberg*, Arnon Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Recently, various philosophers have argued that we can obtain knowledge via the imagination. In particular, it has been suggested that we can come to know concrete, empirical matters of everyday significance by appropriately imagining relevant scenarios. Arguments for this thesis come in two main varieties: black box reliability arguments and constraints-based arguments. We suggest that both strategies are unsuccessful. Against black-box arguments, we point to evidence from empirical psychology, question a central case-study, and raise concerns about a (claimed) evolutionary rationale for the imagination's reliability. Against the constraints-based account, we argue that to the extent that it works, this does not give rise to knowledge that is distinctively from the imagination. We conclude by suggesting that the imagination's role in raising possibilities, traditionally seen as part of the context of discovery, can in fact play a role in justification, including as a bulwark against certain sorts of skepticism.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)319-336
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophy and Phenomenological Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Philosophy and Phenonmenological Research Inc.


  • imagination
  • intuitive physics
  • knowledge


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