‘Faultless’ ignorance: Strengths and limitations of epistemic definitions of confabulation

Consciousness and Cognition 18 (4):952-965 (2009)
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Abstract

There is no satisfactory account for the general phenomenon of confabulation, for the following reasons: (1) confabulation occurs in a number of pathological and non-pathological conditions; (2) impairments giving rise to confabulation are likely to have different neural bases; and (3) there is no unique theory explaining the aetiology of confabulations. An epistemic approach to defining confabulation could solve all of these issues, by focusing on the surface features of the phenomenon. However, existing epistemic accounts are unable to offer sufficient conditions for confabulation and tend to emphasise only its epistemic disadvantages. In this paper, we argue that a satisfactory epistemic account of confabulation should also acknowledge those features which are (potentially) epistemically advantageous. For example, confabulation may allow subjects to exercise some control over their own cognitive life which is instrumental to the construction or preservation of their sense of self.

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Lisa Bortolotti
University of Birmingham