The Importance of Forgetting

Episteme 19 (4):471-490 (2022)
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Morality bears on what we should forget. Some aspects of our identity are meant to be forgotten and there is a distinctive harm that accompanies the permanence of some content about us, content that prompts a duty to forget. To make the case that forgetting is an integral part of our moral duties to others, the paper proceeds as follows. In §1, I make the case that forgetting is morally evaluable and I survey three kinds of forgetting: no-trace forgetting, archival forgetting, and siloing. In §2, I turn to how we practice these forms of forgetting in our everyday lives and the goods these practices facilitate by drawing on examples ranging from the expunging of juvenile arrest records to the right to privacy. In §3, I turn to how my account can help us both recognize and address a heretofore neglected source of harm caused by technology and big data. In §4, I end by addressing the concern that we lack control over forgetting and thus can't be required to forget. I argue this challenge can be answered, but there’s a harder challenge that can’t. Forgetting is under threat. To address this challenge and preserve forgetting, we must change the world.

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Author's Profile

Rima Basu
Claremont McKenna College

Citations of this work

Morality of Belief I: How Beliefs Wrong.Rima Basu - 2023 - Philosophy Compass (7):1-10.
The Ethics of Belief (3rd edition).Rima Basu - forthcoming - In Kurt Sylvan, Matthias Steup, Ernest Sosa & Jonathan Dancy (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Epistemology, Third Edition. Wiley-Blackwell.
Enactive memory.Marta Caravà - 2023 - In Lucas Bietti & Pogacar Martin (eds.), The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Memory Studies. London: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 1-8.

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References found in this work

The wrongs of racist beliefs.Rima Basu - 2018 - Philosophical Studies 176 (9):2497-2515.
Doxastic Wronging.Rima Basu & Mark Schroeder - 2019 - In Brian Kim & Matthew McGrath (eds.), Pragmatic Encroachment in Epistemology. Routledge. pp. 181-205.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
What We Epistemically Owe To Each Other.Rima Basu - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (4):915–931.
Responsibility for believing.Pamela Hieronymi - 2008 - Synthese 161 (3):357-373.

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