Advertisement

Thoughtful Films, Thoughtful Fictions: The Philosophical Terrain Between Illustrations and Thought Experiments

  • E. M. Dadlez
Chapter

Abstract

Many philosophers maintain that works of art, in particular films and novels, cannot function as thought experiments. Most who claim this make their case by setting the bar for what can count as a philosophical thought experiment very high. It is argued here not that these positions are necessarily mistaken, but that there is a large gray area that is seldom acknowledged between what counts as a philosophical thought experiment narrowly defined and what counts as “being used to illustrate a philosophical point,” where the fiction is imported into an already complete external argument. I contend that these are not the only alternatives available, that intuition pumps and variant case arguments provide better grounds for comparison than has been acknowledged, and that there are uses to which filmic illustrations in particular may be put that make distinctive and cognitive contributions of their own. In the course of making this case, it is stressed both that emotional response has clearly cognitive aspects and that many thought experiments with lower stakes rely on eliciting emotional response.

Keywords

Thought experiment Film Cinema Philosophy Fiction Emotion Cognition Literature Intuition pump Intuitive probability Imagination 

Bibliography

  1. Carroll, Noël. Movie-Made Philosophy (Draft), pp. 1–26.Google Scholar
  2. Dadlez, E.M. 2013. Literature, Ethical Thought Experiments, and Moral Knowledge. Southwest Philosophy Review 29 (1): 195–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Davies, David. 2012. Can Philosophical Thought Experiments Be ‘Screened’. In Thought Experiments in Science, Philosophy, and the Arts, ed. Melanie Frappier, Letitia Meynell, and James Robert Brown, 223–238. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Dennett, Daniel C. 2016. Intuition Pumps, (Chapter 10) Edge 5/7/96. http://www.edge.org/documents/ThirdCulture/r-Ch.10.html. Accessed 19 Jun 2019.
  5. Egan, David. 2016. Literature and Thought Experiments. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 74 (2): 139–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Faber, Michel. 2001. Under the Skin. New York: Harcourt.Google Scholar
  7. Lewis, David. 1978. Truth in Fiction. American Philosophical Quarterly 15: 37–46.Google Scholar
  8. Lichtenberg, Judith. 1982. The Moral Equivalence of Action and Omission. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 8: 19–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Livingston, Paisley. 2006. Theses on Cinema as Philosophy. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (1): 11–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Metcalf, Thomas. 2011. Against the Technique of Variant Cases: The Problem of Applied Ethics Induction. Mountain-Plains Philosophy Conference, October 2011.Google Scholar
  11. Mock, Jennifer. 2007. Bid Halted to Revise Child Support Law. NewsOK, April 20. http://m.newsok.com/bid-halted-to-revise-child-support-law/article/3043042. Accessed 27 Dec 2017.
  12. Moran, Richard. 1994a. The Expression of Feeling in Imagination. The Philosophical Review 103 (1): 75–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. ———. 1994b. The Expression of Feeling in Imagination. The Philosophical Review 103 (1): 75–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Purves, Duncan. 2011. Still in Hot Water: Doing, Allowing and Rachels’ Bathtub Cases. Southwest Philosophy Review 27: 129–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ryazanov, Arseny, Jonathan Knutzen, Samuel Rickless, Nicholas Christenfeld, and Dana Kay Nelkin. 2018. Intuitive Probabilities and the Limitation of Moral Imagination. Cognitive Science 42 (suppl 1, May): 38–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Singer, Peter. 1972. Famine, Affluence and Morality. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (3): 229–243.Google Scholar
  17. Sinnerbrink, Robert. 2016. Cinematic Ethics: Exploring Ethical Experience Through Film. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Smith, Murray. 2006. Film Art, Argument, and Ambiguity. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (1): 33–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Smuts, Aaron. 2009. Film as Philosophy: In Defense of a Bold Thesis. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 67 (4, Fall): 406–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Thomson, Judith Jarvis. 1971. A Defense of Abortion. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1 (1): 47–66.Google Scholar
  21. Tooley, Michael. 1994. An Irrelevant Consideration: Killing Versus Letting Die. In Killing and Letting Die, ed. Bonnie Steinbock and Alastair Norcross, 103–111. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Wartenberg, Thomas. 2006. Beyond Mere Illustration: How Films Can Be Philosophy. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (1): 19–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Wartenberg, Thomas E. 2007. Thinking on Screen: Film as Philosophy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. M. Dadlez
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Central OklahomaEdmondUSA

Personalised recommendations