Yet the matter of the epistemology of memory belief is important for its own sake as well. Virtually all of what we know (or are justified in believing) at any given time resides in memory. However, epistemology has been focussed almost exclusively, even if implicitly, on the epistemology of belief formation — of coming to believe a proposition. Yet it is not at all clear that the conditions necessary and sufficient for justifiably coming to believing a proposition are necessary and sufficient for justifiably maintaining it. So if we are to understand how we know the vast majority of what we know at any given time, we'll need an account of the epistemology of memory. This essay will focus on the issues that arise when one attempts to construct such a thing.
The nature of memory was hotly debated in the early modern period by British empiricists David Hume and John Locke, and by Scottish Common Sense Realist Thomas Reid. Our selective excursion into historical discussions will also include a consideration of Bertrand Russell's from The Analysis of Mind. We'll conclude our historical review with the briefest of surveys from the small literature of the second half of the last century.
With our limited survey completed, we'll next clarify the various ways that “memory belief” can be construed. This turns out to be a more complicated business than one might have thought. Having made a number of relevant distinctions and defined our terms, we'll at last be prepared to consider how different kinds of theories account for the justification of that which we remember. Finally, we'll have a look at the prospects for demonstrating the general reliability of memory.
- 1. The Metaphysics of Memory
- 2. Remembering
- 3. Memory Belief
- 4. The Justification of Memory Belief
- 5. The Reliability of Memory
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