Is Episodic Memory a Natural Kind?

Essays in Philosophy 19 (2):178-195 (2018)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
In a recent paper, Cheng and Werning (2016) argue that the class of episodic memories constitutes a natural kind. Endorsing the homeostatic property cluster view of natural kinds, they suggest that episodic memories can be characterized by a cluster of properties unified by an underlying neural mechanism for coding sequences of events. Here, I argue that Cheng & Werning’s proposal faces some significant, and potentially insurmountable, difficulties. Two are described as most prominent. First, the proposal fails to satisfy an important normative constraint on natural kind theorizing, not providing the requisite theoretical resources for arbitration between rival taxonomies of memory. Second, the proposal is in a direct tension with a foundational principle of the HPC view: the rejection of essentialism. This has far-reaching consequences, threatening to undermine the coherence of the proposal.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2018-08-06
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
110 ( #45,092 of 65,579 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #62,646 of 65,579 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.