The information effect: constructive memory, testimony, and epistemic luck

Synthese 190 (12):2429-2456 (2013)
The incorporation of post-event testimonial information into an agent’s memory representation of the event via constructive memory processes gives rise to the misinformation effect, in which the incorporation of inaccurate testimonial information results in the formation of a false memory belief. While psychological research has focussed primarily on the incorporation of inaccurate information, the incorporation of accurate information raises a particularly interesting epistemological question: do the resulting memory beliefs qualify as knowledge? It is intuitively plausible that they do not, for they appear to be only luckily true. I argue, however, that, despite its intuitive plausibility, this view is mistaken: once we adopt an adequate (modal) conception of epistemic luck and an adequate (adaptive) general approach to memory, it becomes clear that memory beliefs resulting from the incorporation of accurate testimonial information are not in general luckily true. I conclude by sketching some implications of this argument for the psychology of memory, suggesting that the misinformation effect would better be investigated in the context of a broader “information effect”
Keywords Memory  Eyewitness memory  Constructive memory  Testimony  Epistemic luck  Misinformation effect  social epistemology  epistemology of memory
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-9992-7
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