Philosophy Colloquium
Carlos Montemayor
San Francisco State University
Memory: Accuracy, Coherence, and Narrative

The extent to which human psychology obeys optimal epistemic principles has been a subject of much recent debate. The general trend is to interpret violations of such principles as instances of irrationality. Yet, deviations from optimal rationality have been found to be pervasive in decision-making. Less pessimistic interpretations postulate that epistemic principles are more contextual and limited. Both interpretations focus exclusively on the epistemic features of human psychology. I propose that research on memory provides a more productive and empirically sensible way to understand the epistemic and non-epistemic features of human psychology. In particular, I argue that epistemic constraints for memory capacities are insufficient to explain the cognitive integration of memories, particularly memory reconsolidation. A central claim I defend is that there are epistemic, as well as narrative thresholds that need to be balanced. This approach provides a positive interpretation of forms of cognition that are not strictly epistemic, arguing that they play a critical role in information processing. It does so by appealing to their role in cognitive integration, in which much more is at stake than accuracy or compliance with epistemic principles.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

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