Saturday, June 20, 2009

Scepticism and the Imagination Model of Dreaming

Scepticism and the Imagination Model of Dreaming. (2008) The Philosophical Quarterly, 58 (232), July 2008: 519–527 doi:10.1111/j.1467-9213.2007.546.x  Penultimate draft; please refer to published version, available online here.
Ernest Sosa has argued that the solution to dream skepticism lies in an understanding of dreams as imaginative experiences – when we dream, on this suggestion, we do not believe the contents of our dreams, but rather imagine them.  Sosa rebuts skepticism thus: dreams don’t cause false beliefs, so my beliefs cannot be false, having been caused by dreams.
I argue that, even assuming that Sosa is correct about the nature of dreaming, belief in wakefulness on these grounds is epistemically irresponsible. The proper upshot of the imagination model, I suggest, is to recharacterize the way we think about dream skepticism: the skeptical threat is not, after all, that we have false beliefs. So even though dreams don’t involve false beliefs, they still pose a skeptical threat, which I elaborate.

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