In this thesis, I show how the analytic imaginary can be understood by examining how specific images are used in analytic philosophy. I focus on five different types of images in five different areas of contemporary analytic philosophy. In the first chapter I explain what I mean by the analytic imaginary, and how it relates to the philosophical imaginary, a concept developed by Michèle Le Dœuff. I argue that we need to look at particular images to understand their diverse functioning and the nature of the analytic imaginary.
I theorise three levels at which images can be embedded in philosophical texts: at the level of expressibility, at the level of enframement, and at the level of persuasiveness. Throughout the thesis, I show how images work through these different levels simultaneously. I examine arguments by analogy in the abortion debate, in particular Judith Jarvis Thomson's famous violinist analogy; a variety of thought experiments in personal identity; the myth of the social contract and the myths of the original position and the veil of ignorance in the political philosophy of John Rawls; Thomas Nagel's use of visual and spatial metaphors in epistemology; and Kendall Walton's use of children's games as a foundational model in aesthetics. In each case I explain how assumptions are promoted and certain tensions concealed by the image, how the image persuades, and the way the image constrains debate and excludes differing approaches and ideas.
A number of general characteristics of the analytic imaginary emerge from my examination of the use of these images. The most important of these concerns the role assigned the imagination within analytic philosophy. Either implicitly or explicitly, one of the most basic assumptions behind the use of these particular images is the assumption that it is possible and desirable to imagine ourselves in other's places, and that we can use that imagining as a basis for theorising in ethics, metaphysics, political philosophy, epistemology, and aesthetics.