The philosophy of memory technologies: Metaphysics, knowledge, and values

Memory Studies 13 (4):416-433 (2020)
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Abstract
Memory technologies are cultural artifacts that scaffold, transform, and are interwoven with human biological memory systems. The goal of this article is to provide a systematic and integrative survey of their philosophical dimensions, including their metaphysical, epistemological and ethical dimensions, drawing together debates across the humanities, cognitive sciences, and social sciences. Metaphysical dimensions of memory technologies include their function, the nature of their informational properties, ways of classifying them, and their ontological status. Epistemological dimensions include the truth-conduciveness of external memory, the conditions under which external memory counts as knowledge, and the metacognitive monitoring of external memory processes. And lastly, ethical and normative dimensions include the desirability of the effects memory technologies have on biological memory, their effects on self and culture, and their moral status. Whilst the focus in the article is largely philosophical and conceptual, empirical issues such as the way we interact with memory technologies in various contexts are also discussed. We thus take a naturalistic approach in which philosophical and empirical concepts and approaches are seen as continuous.
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2020
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First archival date: 2017-03-10
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