3/12/15: Felipe De Brigard: The Explanatory Indispensability of Memory Traces

January 27, 2015


March 12, 2015

4:15 - 5:45

Humanities 2, 259


Many philosophers of memory have wondered whether or not it is indispensible to postulate the existence of memory traces to explain remembering. In this talk I will offer an argument in favor of the explanatory indispensability of memory traces. To that end, I will begin by demonstrating that the main arguments in favor of the claim that we need memory traces to explain remembering share the logical structure of a inference to the best explanation. As a result, most arguments against the claim that we need memory traces to explain remembering aim to show that we can have equally successful explanations that do not require the postulation of such entities. My argument aims to show that there is a large number of memory phenomena for which explanations that do not postulate the existence of memory traces would be inadequate.



Felipe De Brigard

Assistant Professor

Center for Cognitive Neuroscience

Philosophy, Arts & Sciences

Duke University


Research Interests: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Science and Neuroscience; Neurophilosophy; Moral Psychology

Most of my research focuses on the way in which memory and imagination interact. So far, I have explored ways in which episodic memory both guides and constrains episodic counterfactual thinking (i.e., thoughts about alternative ways in which past personal events could have occurred), and how this interaction affects the perceived plausibility of imagined counterfactual events. I also explore the differential contribution of episodic and semantic memory in the generation of different kinds of counterfactual simulations, as well as the effect of counterfactual thinking on the memories they derive from. In addition, my research attempts to understand how prior experience helps to constrain the way in which we reconstruct episodic memories. Finally, I am also interested in the role of internal attention during conscious recollection. To address these issues I use behavioral and functional magnetic resonance imaging techniques, as well as the conceptual rigor of philosophical analysis.

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