Are "q-memories" empirically realistic? A neurophilosophical approach

Philosophical Psychology 13 (2):191-211 (2000)

Abstract

"Quasi-memories," necessarily presupposing a distinction between an "experiencing" and a "remembering" person, are considered by Parfit and Shoemaker as necessary and/or sufficient criteria for personal identity. However, the concept of "q-memories" is rejected by Schechtman since, according to her, neither "content" and "experience" can be separated from each other in "q-memories" ("principal inseparability") nor can they be distinguished from delusions/confabulations ("principal indistinguishability"). The purpose of the present paper is to demonstrate that, relying on a neurophilosophical approach, both arguments can be rejected. Neuropsychological research shows that "contents" of memories are classified according to the accompanying psychological state such that the same "content" can be classified either as auto- or heterobiographical by the respective "experience." Since "content" and "experience" can be separated from each other, the argument of "principal inseparability" must be rejected on empirical grounds. In addition, as demonstrated in an example of a schizophrenic patient, "q-memories" can be distinguished from delusions/confabulations considering the ability to distinguish between different sources of autobiographical memories as a differential criterion. In conclusion, both arguments by Schechtman against the concept of "q-memories" have to be rejected on the basis of neurophilosophical considerations. Consequently, the concept of "q-memories" can be considered as compatible with current empirical knowledge

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