In Defense of Pastist Externalism

Sven Bernecker

in Memory

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199577569
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722820 | DOI:
In Defense of Pastist Externalism

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The view that past environmental conditions fix the contents of our memory states (in conjunction with the conceptual replacement view) has the consequence that an environmental shift brings about a conceptual shift which, in turn, can rob us of the ability to remember some of our past thoughts. Some may find this idea rather implausible. Boghossian's memory argument purports to show that externalism about memory yields the absurd consequence that a subject can know the contents of his current thoughts only if the environmental conditions determining these contents will not change in the future. This chapter shows that worries concerning the externalist thesis that environmental switching can cause memory failures are misplaced because there are neither philosophical nor psychological reasons to substantiate them. Pastist externalism corresponds with psychological data (context dependence, state dependence) and is compatible with the psychological criterion of personal identity.

Keywords: memory argument; Boghossian; slow switching; conceptual shift; context dependence; state dependence; personal identity

Chapter.  11639 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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