Memory: A Self-Referential Account

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Oxford University Press, 2019 - Philosophy - 240 pages
Jordi Fernández here offers a philosophical investigation of memory, one which engages with memory's philosophically puzzling characteristics in order to clarify what memory is. Memories interact with mental states of other types in a particular way, and they also have associated feelings that these other mental states lack. They are special in terms of their representational capacity too, since one can have memories of objective events as well as memories of one's own past experiences. Finally, memories are epistemically unique, in that beliefs formed on the basis of memories are protected from certain errors of misidentification, and are justified in a way which does not rely on any cognitive capacity other than memory.

To explain these unique features, Fernández proposes that memories have a particular functional role which involves past perceptual experiences and beliefs about the past. He suggests that memories have a particular content as well, namely that they represent themselves as having a certain causal origin. Fernández then explains the feelings associated with our memories as the experience of some of the things that our memories represent, things such as our own past experiences, or the fact that memories originate in those experiences. He also accounts for the special justification for belief afforded by our memories in terms of the content that memories have. The resulting picture is a unified account of several philosophically interesting aspects of memory, one that will appeal to philosophers of mind, metaphysicians, and epistemologists alike.


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About the author (2019)

Jordi Fernández is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Adelaide. He has worked at Macquarie University and the Australian National University as a post-doctoral fellow, and at Bowdoin College as a Visiting Assistant Professor. His teaching and research interests are in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and metaphysics.

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