Unsuccessful Remembering: A Challenge for the Relational View of Memory

Erkenntnis 87 (4):1539-1562 (2020)
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This paper explores the relationship between a prominent version of the relational view of memory and recent work on forms of unsuccessful remembering or memory errors. I argue that unsuccessful remembering poses an important challenge for the relational view. Unsuccessful remembering can be divided into two kinds: misremembering and confabulating. I discuss each of these cases in light of a recent relational account, according to which remembering is characterized by an experiential relation to past events, and I argue that experiential relations do not adequately distinguish between remembering and unsuccessful remembering. This is because there are, on the one hand, cases of remembering that do not instantiate the relevant experiential relations, and, on the other hand, cases of confabulation and misremembering that do instantiate the relevant experiential relations. I conclude by suggesting that any successful relationalist attempt to explain remembering needs to come to grips with unsuccessful remembering.

Author's Profile

André Sant'Anna
University of Geneva


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