Wo has lots of good

Wo has lots of good questions about imaginative resistance. Hopefully I’ll be able to answer all of them by the time the paper ends, because most of them are too hard to answer on the spot. One of the points running through the questions is that we need to distinguish the truth of supervenience claims from their being believed by a reader. Once we do, we might well ask, well which of these, being true or being believed, matters to resistance? My first instinct is to respond with another distinction. (—No kidding. I’ve never seen you do that before.)

There are two issues about imaginative resistance that I feel have been too quickly run together. First, sometimes imaginative resistance seems to imply that what the author wants to make true in the story is not really true. Whatever the author of Victory wanted (assuming it had a real author, which it didn’t, I impersonated an author to write it) it is not true that Quixote’s apartment contains an armchair. Secondly, sometimes imaginative resistance means we literally can’t imagine what we are being requested to imagine. We can’t imagine that Quixote’s apartment is as it must be for that conversation to happen, and that it contains an armchair. My working hypothesis is that real supervenience matters to the first question, and believed supervenience matters to the second.

One bit of confirming evidence for that conclusion. Imagine someone who didn’t believe the moral supervened on the descriptive. This person, I’ll call them George, thinks that whether a person is good depends just on the character of their soul, not on how they act. George will not resist a story like: Dick killed thousands of people to enrich himself, but beneath it all, Dick remained a good person. But it is not true in the story that Dick is a good person. To the extent we are like George, not accepting supervenience claims that we should accept, then we won’t resist stories that violate those supervenience claims. But what is true in those stories is to some extent independent of what we believe.

I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep to that line throughout, but that’s the working hypothesis.

Wo also has lots of interesting posts on the logic textbook he’s working on. The book sounds fun – maybe by the time I teach intro logic next it’ll be on the shelves and I can use it!