The Authenticity of Memory

Sven Bernecker

in Memory

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780199577569
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722820 | DOI:
The Authenticity of Memory

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For a present propositional attitude token to stand in a memory‐relation to a past propositional attitude token, the contents of both tokens need not be type‐identical but only sufficiently similar. This view flies in the face of the widespread identity theory of memory which demands type‐identity of diachronic content tokens and attitude tokens. This chapter determines to what extent two diachronic propositional attitude tokens may differ from one another and one of them still count as sufficiently similar to the other so as to be memory‐related to it. The chapter starts out by distinguishing two aspects of the veridicality constraint on memory: authenticity and truth. The truth of a memory report has to do with the memory content correctly representing objective reality. Authenticity, on the other hand, is an internal criterion concerning the accuracy of the reproduction of a past propositional attitude (true or false). The mark of authentic content representation is entailment: a present propositional attitude token is memory‐related to a past propositional attitude token only if the content of the present token is entailed by the content of the past token. One of the consequences of the entailment thesis is that it is possible that the content of a memory state is entertained for the first time at the time of recollection. This view is compared and contrasted with Plato's theory of recollection whereby all learning is nothing but remembering. Finally, the chapter addresses the question of when two diachronic attitude tokens are of the same kind and proposes a functionalist answer. The notion of attitude‐similarity is spelled out in terms of sameness of direction of fit and polarity.

Keywords: content similarity; identity theory of memory; authenticity; truth; content entailment; Plato; recollection; attitude similarity; direction of fit; polarity

Chapter.  11751 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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