Fictional Inquiry

Dennis Schoeneborn*, Joep Cornelissen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


This chapter augments established epistemologies of representation and epistemologies of emancipation by adding a third orientation, which can be termed epistemology of fiction. An epistemology of fiction deliberately generates scientific statements that deviate from actual empirical reality. The chapter is structured according to three main purposes of fictional inquiry: (1) juxtaposing fictional and counterfactual statements with empirical reality to reveal new insights and enhance our understanding of that reality (e.g., through ideal-type thinking or figurative imagination); (2) juxtaposing fictional/counterfactual statements against other scientific statements to test and refine the latter statements (e.g., via counterfactual reasoning, thought experiments, or simulation); and (3) drawing on fictional realities as objects of inquiry in their own right, typically in order to understand the impact of these fictional realities on current or future (nonfictional) empirical realities. The chapter concludes with some considerations regarding the fit of an epistemology of fiction to management studies as an academic field.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Philosophy of Management
EditorsCristina Neesham, Markus Reihlen, Dennis Schoeneborn
Number of pages20
Publication date2022
ISBN (Print)9783030766054
ISBN (Electronic)9783030766061
Publication statusPublished - 2022
SeriesHandbooks in Philosophy


  • Counterfacturals
  • Fiction
  • Ideal types
  • Management studies
  • Simulation
  • Thought experiments

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