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Memory, epistemology of

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P032-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 21, 2024, from

Article Summary

Memory appears to preserve knowledge, but there are epistemic questions about how this could be. Memory is fallible, and empirical research has identified various ways in which people systematically misremember. Even wholesale error seems possible: Russell (1927) proposed that it is logically possible for the world to have sprung into existence five minutes ago, complete with spurious ostensible memories of earlier times. In light of such possibilities, some sceptics argue that memory cannot yield knowledge.

Assuming that memory provides knowledge, there are serious epistemic issues about how it does this. For instance, does some introspectible quality of remembering provide distinctive evidence for what is remembered, or is it some other feature of memory that secures the epistemic justification needed for knowledge? How readily recollectible must a proposition be in order for it to be known while it is not being recalled? Does a full retention in memory of a previous basis for knowing something assure continuing knowledge of it? Does forgetting an original basis for knowing without replacing it imply a loss of knowledge?

Citing this article:
Conee, Earl. Memory, epistemology of, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P032-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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