Philosophy, Psychology and Neuroscience

On Imaginings, Supposing and Conceiving

To explain how we achieve our cognitive goals when we make decisions about future actions, when we perform thought experiments, and when we engage in games of pretense, philosophers frequently invoke our ability to imagine, conceive and/or suppose various things. But what is the relationship between imaginings, conceivings and supposings? And what exactly are the epistemic roles they play in the cognitive projects in which they are involved? In this paper I provide answers to these questions by first bringing out a contrast between what we do when we imagine and what we do when we suppose, and then by showing how to fit conceivings into the emerging systematic picture of the ways we use different forms of hypothetical thinking to acquire knowledge.