Memory: A philosophical study * by Sven Bernecker

Analysis 72 (1):181-184 (2012)
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Sven Bernecker’s contribution to the ongoing revival in the philosophy of memory offers a consistent vision and analysis of propositional remembering, and covers a range of topics in analytic metaphysics and epistemology. Bernecker defends a methodological externalism, by which memory ‘must be analyzed from a third-person point of view’ (34): so even though conceptual analysis remains the primary method, the ‘linguistic intuitions’ that guide it ‘are not a priori but empirical working hypotheses’ (31). Given the central role of such intuitions in Bernecker’s treatment of many briefly described thought experiments throughout the book, it is strange that he does not defend their use more explicitly in this early section on method, instead leaving it to a later footnote (147, n. 11) to say that ‘trying to defend the use of intuitions in the philosophy of memory would . . . take us too far afield’. Bernecker’s subtitle signals a restricted target audience: this is a book for those analytic philosophers who will enjoy long exegeses on Twin Earth, slow switching or quasi-memory. Psychological results on memory are cited, but only piecemeal, and interactive dialogue with scientific theory is not Bernecker’s aim.
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