October 11, 2016
Depiction and imagination are intimately linked. In this article, I discuss the role imagination (as well as inference and knowledge/belief) plays in depiction, with a focus on photographic depiction. I partly embrace a broadly Waltonian view, but not always, and not always for Walton’s own reasons. In Walton’s view, imagination plays a crucial role in depiction. I consider the objection to his view that not all cases of depiction involve imagination – for instance, documentary photographs. From this discussion, two points will emerge: first, we will see that it is an unnecessary mistake to insist too heavily on the fact that photographs are produced in a mechanical way (as opposed to, say, paintings), and second, we will see that the notion of “imagining-seeing”, as it is articulated by Walton, is perhaps too strong and does not entirely do justice to the external character of the role imagination plays here. Focusing mainly on photographs, I then illustrate the view I want to advocate by a series of different cases, where the nature of the role that imagination, knowledge/belief, and inference play in depiction will become apparent.