Epistemic innocence and the production of false memory beliefs

Philosophical Studies 176 (3):755-780 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Findings from the cognitive sciences suggest that the cognitive mechanisms responsible for some memory errors are adaptive, bringing benefits to the organism. In this paper we argue that the same cognitive mechanisms also bring a suite of significant epistemic benefits, increasing the chance of an agent obtaining epistemic goods like true belief and knowledge. This result provides a significant challenge to the folk conception of memory beliefs that are false, according to which they are a sign of cognitive frailty, indicating that a person is less reliable than others or their former self. Evidence of memory errors can undermine a person’s view of themselves as a competent epistemic agent, but we show that false memory beliefs can be the result of the ordinary operation of cognitive mechanisms found across the species, which bring substantial epistemic benefits. This challenge to the folk conception is not adequately captured by existing epistemological theories. However, it can be captured by the notion of epistemic innocence, which has previously been deployed to highlight how beliefs which have epistemic costs can also bring significant epistemic benefits. We therefore argue that the notion of epistemic innocence should be expanded so that it applies not just to beliefs but also to cognitive mechanisms.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,662

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

The Epistemic Innocence of Motivated Delusions.Lisa Bortolotti - 2015 - Consciousness and Cognition (33):490-499.
The Epistemic Innocence of Psychedelic States.Chris Letheby - 2016 - Consciousness and Cognition 39:28-37.
The Bright Side of Memory Errors.Katherine Puddifoot & Lisa Bortolotti - 2018 - The Philosophers' Magazine 82:41-47.
Value, Epistemic.Patrick Bondy - 2015 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Epistemic Benefits of Elaborated and Systematized Delusions in Schizophrenia.Lisa Bortolotti - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (3):879-900.
The Virtues of Epistemic Conservatism.Kevin McCain - 2008 - Synthese 164 (2):185-200.
A Puzzle About Epistemic Akrasia.Daniel Greco - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (2):201-219.

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-02-02

Downloads
17 (#634,913)

6 months
1 (#419,921)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?