Explanatory Contextualism about Episodic Memory: Towards A Diagnosis of the Causalist-Simulationist Debate

Erkenntnis:1-29 (forthcoming)
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We argue that the causal theory of memory and the simulation theory of memory are not as straightforwardly incompatible as they are usually taken to be. Following a brief review of the theories, we describe alternative normative and descriptive perspectives on memory, arguing that the causal theory aligns better with the normative perspective and the simulation theory with the descriptive perspective. Taking explanatory contextualism about perception as our starting point, we then develop a form of explanatory contextualism about memory, arguing that, depending on the context in which we find ourselves, either the normative perspective or the descriptive perspective may be appropriate. It follows that, while the causal theory and the simulation theory cannot both be right with respect to a given perspective, and while it is necessary to choose one perspective or the other in a given context, there an important sense in which we need not choose between causalism and simulationism. We conclude by differentiating our position from and critiquing a related position developed by Craver (2020) and defending our position against objections.



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Author Profiles

Christopher Jude McCarroll
National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University
Bence Nanay
University of Antwerp

Citations of this work

Eliminating episodic memory?Nikola Andonovski, John Sutton & Christopher McCarroll - forthcoming - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

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Imagination.Shen-yi Liao & Tamar Gendler - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Perception and its objects.Bill Brewer - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):87-97.
Memory and consciousness.Endel Tulving - 1985 - Canadian Psychology 26:1-12.

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