Keywords

fantasy, games, John Rawls, realism, utopia

Subject Area

History/Anthropology/Philosophy

Start Date

1-3-2014 9:00 AM

End Date

1-3-2014 10:30 AM

Description/Abstract

In this essay I discuss how realism operates to constrain works of creative fantasy. Most of the discussion concerns games, especially role-playing games, that take place in a fantasy milieu. I also discuss the role of realism in utopian political philosophy, however, including in particular John Rawls's conception of political theory as a search for a "realistic utopia". Realism plays a surprisingly similar role limiting and informing the content of fantasies in these apparently unrelated domains; Rawls's understanding of realism as a limit on utopian thought illuminates how realism serves as a constraint on fantasy games. I close by suggesting briefly that this discussion of games and politics also illuminates how realism constrains fantasy in works of literary fiction.

Bio

Jon Garthoff is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee. He works primarily in ethical theory and political philosophy, and is especially interested in how psychological capacities – including capacities possessed by many nonhuman animals, such as perception, consciousness, and judgment – figure in our best understandings of ethics, politics, and law.

Included in

Philosophy Commons

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Mar 1st, 9:00 AM Mar 1st, 10:30 AM

Realism as a Constraint on Fantasy

In this essay I discuss how realism operates to constrain works of creative fantasy. Most of the discussion concerns games, especially role-playing games, that take place in a fantasy milieu. I also discuss the role of realism in utopian political philosophy, however, including in particular John Rawls's conception of political theory as a search for a "realistic utopia". Realism plays a surprisingly similar role limiting and informing the content of fantasies in these apparently unrelated domains; Rawls's understanding of realism as a limit on utopian thought illuminates how realism serves as a constraint on fantasy games. I close by suggesting briefly that this discussion of games and politics also illuminates how realism constrains fantasy in works of literary fiction.