Learning from Imagination

Imagination is a topic which pertains to many areas in philosophy, such as philosophy of fiction, philosophy of science, epistemology and cognitive science. We aim for this to be a broad conference which can cover all those areas, but with a crucial focus which unites them: learning from imagination. Philosophy of fiction has long been dealing with the important question of how we can learn anything from fiction, given that it is not real – it is merely fictional worlds that we imagine. In epistemology questions arise as to how a belief based on imagination could be justified, since it seems like imagination does not track the world in the way that perception does. In philosophy of science, we discuss how we can learn from thought experiments, and what role imagination actually plays in these experiments. Cognitive science tries to find out how imagination is constrained by our cognitive faculties, and whether that entails that there are certain things that we just cannot imagine, and hence some things might have to be learned from first-hand experience, rather than imaginative projects.

Our aim is to bring these questions together during this conference and to provide an environment where these can be addressed both by professional philosophers and postgraduate students. We have three confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Amy Kind (Claremont McKenna College), Dr Adriana Clavel Vazquez (University of Hull), and Dr Aaron Meskin (University of Leeds). In addition to these excellent keynotes, we have 8 postgraduate and early career speakers.

Having held a very successful one-day Imagination Workshop in May 2018 as a pilot event, we’ve gathered that there is a lot of interest for a conference addressing these questions in the UK. We will provide lunch catering for both days, as well as hold a conference dinner on the first night.


£ 1800

Lead Student

Andrea Blomqvist, Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield

Other student organisers

Alice Murphy (University of Leeds) Celia Coll (University of York)