Pretense. A relativist account

Pretending is a puzzling activity. Why should we waste our time building up representations of an imaginary world when it would be better to acquire more information about the real one? Engaging in games of make believe, however, also means to be faced with new, possible situations, and thus to anticipate what could happen if something were the case, how we or other people could react, what decisions we should make, etc. In a word, pretense plays are a kind of gym, a space where children engage in with unusual situations, in order to be ready to face whatever life could present them with. This book aims to offer an account of the architecture of the mind that is required in order to engage in and understand pretense, paying special attention to the nature of our imaginings, their power to motivate our actions, and the kinds of metarepresentational abilities that are required in order to keep our imaginary representations distinct from the representations of reality. If pretense is a uniquely human ability, understanding it means knowing what it is that makes us so peculiar.

Daniela Tagliafico ( has a PhD in philosophy of language and is a member of the Laboratory for Ontology at the University of Turin. She has published articles in ontology, philosophy of mind, language, and aesthetics.