Logos & Episteme

Volume 9, Issue 4, 2018

Umut Baysan
Pages 369-378

Memory, Confabulation, and Epistemic Failure

Mnemonic confabulation is an epistemic failure that involves memory error. In this paper, I examine an account of mnemonic confabulation offered by Sarah Robins in a number of works. In Robins’ framework, mnemonic cognitive states in general (e.g., remembering, misremembering) are individuated by three conditions: existence of the target event, matching of the representation and the target event, and an appropriate causal connection between the target event and its representation. Robins argues that when these three conditions are not met, the cognitive state in question is an instance of mnemonic confabulation. Here, I argue that this is not true. There are mnemonic cognitive states which don’t meet any of these conditions, and they are not cases of mnemonic confabulation. On a more positive note, I argue that mnemonic confabulation requires it to be a failing on behalf of either the subject or her mnemonic system that these conditions are not met.