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Imagining and KnowingThe Shape of Fiction$
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Gregory Currie

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780199656615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199656615.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 July 2021

An empirical question?

An empirical question?

Chapter:
(p.96) 6 An empirical question?
Source:
Imagining and Knowing
Author(s):

Gregory Currie

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199656615.003.0007

This book asks whether, in what circumstances, and to what degree we learn from fiction. But it may be objected that that is the wrong question. The philosophically interesting question about fiction, it may be said, is not whether people do learn from it but ‘What is there to be learned?’ Answering this question requires analytical and interpretive effort, not the provision of evidence, either of an experimental kind or derived from common experience. This chapter is devoted to the task of undermining the objection. It is argued that an inquiry into the epistemic status of fiction must be in part an empirical one, though it is emphasized that the right kinds of empirical evidence may be very hard to obtain. One objection to this approach is that it suggests a need to radically revise our ways of approaching and appreciating works of fiction. There is some justice in the concern, and it is suggested that revision is best avoided by thinking of ourselves as engaged, not in learning, but in a pretence of learning.

Keywords:   fiction, learning, evidence, the a priori, pretence

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