Reviving the naïve realist approach to memory

Philosophy and the Mind Sciences 3 (2022)
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The viability of a naïve realist theory of memory was a lively debate for philosophers of mind in the first half of the twentieth century. More recently, though, naïve realism has been largely abandoned as a non-starter in the memory literature, with representationalism being the standard view held by philosophers of memory. But rather than being carefully argued, the dismissal of naïve realism is an assumption that sits at the back of much recent theorizing in the philosophy of memory. In this paper, we identify three reasons why philosophers of memory have felt compelled to outright reject naïve realism. We argue that none of those reasons are successful. Thus, far from being a non-starter, we argue that naïve realism is a theoretical perspective that needs to be given serious consideration in current philosophy of memory debates.

Author Profiles

André Sant'Anna
University of Geneva
Michael Barkasi
Washington University in St. Louis


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