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Philosophy Today

Volume 63, Issue 1, Winter 2019

Olaf Tans
Pages 195-215

Moral Judgment as Make-Believe
A Pretense-Based Account of Imagination in Practical Reason

In relation to the (neo-)Kantian theory that moral judgments are imaginarily grounded, this contribution explores how moral agents experience and make use of this imaginary groundedness. Drawing from a strand of aesthetics that conceives of imagination as make-believe, the imaginary ground of moral judgment is theorized to stem from the interaction between active participants who pretend that their claims are grounded, and passive participants who are invited to go along. Based on this reconstruction, the experience of the moral imaginary is argued to stem from a divided mind. It allows moral agents to be partly devoted to the mental and communicative attitude fitting the fictional world of groundedness, and partly to generating personal responses to moral claims. Using the experience of artistic fiction as an example, the actual experience of morality’s imaginary ground is finally located in the interplay between those two spheres.

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