Pretense is representation

Monday, April 16,  15:00

Neil Van Leeuwen (Georgia State/Antwerp)

Venue: Carlos Santamaria Zentroa, Room 2


What is it to pretend? My hypothesis comes from the language we use to describe pretense. We talk about pretense behaviors as though they have contents. "He's pretending that he is a dinosaur." "She's pretending that a swarm of bees is attacking her." "They are pretending that they are in a duel." These descriptions are interesting precisely because the majority of behaviors do not have contents. Going to the bank, for example, does not have contents. It's just going to the bank. One does not, "go to the bank that p." Nor does one, "eat a sandwich that q." But when we describe pretending, we often do describe it—the behavior itself—as having propositional content. For example, "He is pretending that he's riding a horse." I thus propose that pretense behaviors are themselves representations. More specifically, to pretend that p is to produce, using one's body and other props, a representation that has p as content, where one's body, one's motions, and one's props are constituents of the representation. In this talk, I develop and refine this view, note some problems it solves, contrast it with competitors, and develop an action theory of pretense based partly on Goldman's (1970) A Theory of Human Action.

 (Attendance is free, but it should be notified in advance to