Essay sample

State the Causal Theory of Autobiographical (Or Experiential) Memory, as Set Out by Bernecker, and Explain Its Rationale

Free ideas for

Memory plays important roles in many areas of philosophy

It is vital to our knowledge of the world in general and of the personal past in particular. It underwrites our identities as individuals and our ties to other people. Philosophical interest in memory thus dates back to antiquity and has remained prominent throughout the history of philosophy. More recently, memory has come to be recognized as a topic of major philosophical importance in its own right, with the emergence of the philosophy of memory as a distinct field of research.

Free ideas for

Although episodic memory is a widely studied form of memory both in philosophy and psychology, it still raises many burning questions regarding its definition and even its acceptance. Over the last two decades, cross-disciplinary discussions between these two fields have increased as they tackle shared concerns, such as the phenomenology of recollection, and therefore allow for fruitful interaction. This editorial introduction aims to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date presentation of the main existing conceptions and issues on the topic. After delineating Tulving’s chief theoretical import and multifaceted legacy, it goes on to chart the different attempts to capture the episodicity feature of memory according to three categories: a first approach aims to show the cognitive abilities required for a subject to episodically remember; the second defines episodicity as a stage-specific feature; the last explains episodicity in terms of the epistemological properties of episodic memory. This state of the art thereby sets the stage for the contributions of the present volume, which will be introduced in conclusion. Episodic memory refers both to a long-standing intuitive notion and a recent, still controversial, theoretical concept. Of the various memorial capabilities with which human beings are equipped to retain information about their past, one – variously named “remembering”, “recollection”, “reminiscence” or “remembrance” – intuitively sets itself apart. It consists (in pre-theoretical terms) in reliving past autobiographical episodes as if one travelled back to them mentally and went through them anew in the form of phenomenally rich mental images. Thanks to its special feature of being oriented towards the past, this capability thus makes it possible to bear a direct relation to one’s own past despite the passage of time. For centuries, philosophers have endeavoured to delineate and explain this mental phenomenon, pointing out its role within an individual’s sense of self and personal identity, the special relation to time for which it allows, and the source of knowledge it provides. The well-identified phenomenology and epistemic role of episodic memory therefore secure the relevance and content of its theoretical existence. Tthe contrasting theoretical positions currently held by the notion of episodic memory make it opportune to now take stock and question its definition

This is the common theme running through this special issue. However, we also believe that this task has to be undertaken by adopting a cross-disciplinary approach calling on both philosophy and psychology. As suggested above, the psychological elaboration of the concept of episodic memory intersects with a century of philosophical questioning, particularly because one of the essential features of this concept is the phenomenology of the recollective experience. It is therefore no surprise that philosophers of mind have increasingly resorted to analyses derived from cognitive psychology, producing highly effective works.

Free ideas for

Hyponotic suggestion provides another example of people reporting ill-grounded beliefs without being aware that their beliefs are ill-grounded. In an experiment conducted by Rahmanovic et al. (2012) and reported by Bortolotti and Cox (2009, p. 959) hypnotized participants received a suggestion that their non-dominant hand and arm belongs to someone else and they were instructed to forget the fact that the hypnotist gave them this suggestion. The hypnotized participants were then asked to pick up objects on a tray located next to the arm targeted by the suggestion. If they used the arm not targeted by the suggestion they were asked why they used this arm

They offered confabulated reasons such as “my other arm is stuck” or “my other arm is paralyzed.” The participants were also challenged by being asking what they would say if a doctor examined their arm and found that the arm was normal and that it belonged to the participant. Some of the participants commented that the doctor would be wrong. Since the participants in the experiment lacked awareness of why their arm felt differently they were not in a position to know or believe that their beliefs were ill-grounded. The upshot is once again that Hirstein's condition (v) is too stringent.The most compelling cases of memory without justification are ones where the subject remembers that p but where there is some defeating information such that, if the subject became aware of it, she would no longer be justified in believing p20. This is not the place to argue on behalf of the necessity of a no-defeater condition for justification. In addition to the sheer plausibility of the view that justification is incompatible with the presence of undefeated defeaters, the literature is dominated by endorsements of no-defeater conditions. Despite the great variety of conceptions of epistemic justification, philosophers on both sides of the internalism/externalism divide sign up to the idea that justification is incompatible with undefeated defeaters. In the case of epistemic internalism, it is obvious that the presence of undefeated defeaters undermines justification. For if what justifies a belief is a mentally accessible item (something that one can come to know whether it obtains just by reflecting on one's mental states), being justified in believing p must exclude a person's having sufficient reasons for supposing either that p is false or that the belief that p is not grounded or produced in a way that is sufficiently truth-indicating. Three reasons speak in favor of the causal theory of memory and against competing theories. First, the simple retention theory states that the retention process is not of a causal kind but it does not give us a lead as to the kind of process responsible for the retention of the ability to represent a proposition. The causal theory has an explanatory advantage over the simple theory in that it gives an answer to the question of what kind of process makes memory retention possible. Second, unlike the evidential retention theory, the causal theory is not committed to the problematic thesis that memory implies epistemic justification. Third, the causal theory of memory provides a better explanation of the truth of the commonsensical counterfactual “If S had not represented at t1 that p* he wouldn't represent at t2 that p” than either the simple or the evidential retention theory.

Free ideas for

Summing up, the causal theory of confabulation delivers the right verdict in the case of veridical and justified confabulation

For just because a state of seeming to remember is true by coincidence doesn't mean that it counterfactually depends on the corresponding past representation. And likewise whether a state of seeming to remember is, say, coherentistically justified has no bearing on whether it counterfactually depends on the corresponding past representation. That is why the causal theory of confabulation allows us to eliminate verdicial and well-grounded confabulations from the ranks of genuine memory.

Free ideas for

Rahmanovic, A., Barnier, A. J., Cox, R. E., Langdon, R. A., and Coltheart, M. (2012). That's not my arm: a hypnotic analogue of somatoparaphrenia. Cogn. Neuropsychiatry 17, 36–63.

Plato (1921). Theaetetus. Transl. by H. N. Fowler. Loeb Classical Library. London: William Heineman.

Pollock, J. L., and Cruz, J. (1999). Contemporary Theories of Knowledge, 2nd Edn. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Rahmanovic, A., Barnier, A. J., Cox, R. E., Langdon, R. A., and Coltheart, M. (2012). That's not my arm: a hypnotic analogue of somatoparaphrenia. Cogn. Neuropsychiatry 17, 36–63.

Was this essay example useful for you?

Do you need extra help?

Order unique essay written for you
ORDER NOW
1181
Words
4
References
essay statistic graph
Topic Popularity
ORDER ESSAY