The Puzzle of Imaginative Failure



The Puzzle of Imaginative Failure asks why, when readers are invited to do so, they so often fall short of imagining worlds where the moral facts are different. This is puzzling because we have no difficulty imagining worlds where the descriptive facts are different. Much of the philosophical controversy revolves around the question of whether the reader's lack of imagination in such cases is a result of psychological barriers (an inability or a difficulty on the reader's part to imagine what she is asked to imagine) or whether it is instead a result of wilful resistance (a desire not to imagine what she's asked to imagine). I argue for a different kind of solution. I maintain the primary reason for such systematic failures on the reader's part is due to an inability on the author's part to make clear that she is inviting the reader to engage in such imaginings.