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When We Are No More: How Digital Memory Is Shaping Our Future


How plausible this variety of foundationalism is will depend onthe variety of epistemic justification it is concerned with. Forexample, if one is committed to a strong truth-connection and thinksthat a belief that is justified must be in some significant senselikely to be true, then adopting either of the above versions offoundationalism is out of the question. For there is no necessaryconnection between a belief's being stored and recalled (with orwithout a memorial seeming) and its being likely to be true. Thisisn't to say that memory is not generally reliable. But itsreliability is at best conditional: miracles aside, an agent'srecalled beliefs will be likely to be true only if her belief-forming(as opposed to preserving) processes are generally reliable. So thesimple foundationalist will see herself as giving conditions for aninternalistic variety of justification that minimizes the connectionbetween a belief's being justified and its being true.

There is good reason to be inclusive here. At any given time,nearly all a person's beliefs are dispositional. A goodepistemological theory will then have to say something about theepistemic status of these beliefs. So our definition of memory beliefshould not be limited to the exceedingly small class of occurrentmemory beliefs. Perhaps the epistemologist will need to havesomething special to say about occurrent memory beliefs, but our maintopic will be more general than that.



While there may be a certain surface plausibility to Hume's accountof memory, its inadequacies quickly come to light. First, as Humehimself recognizes, there is nothing in principle to prevent an ideaof memory from being decidedly faint and without force (just as ideasof imagination can be vivid and forceful). Hume can and does say thatwhen memory ideas are faint, they are often not recognized as memoryimages, but are instead taken to be of the imagination. But thisresponse confuses the issue. Our concern here, and the one that Humeis addressing in the relevant sections of the Treatise, iswith the metaphysics of memory and not with its epistemology. So itdoesn't matter that sometimes memory images may be mistaken for imagesof the imagination. For even in describing such a circumstance, oneassumes that the fact of the matter is that the image in question is amemory image and that the subject has made a mistake in judging theimage to be of imagination. We are trying to figure out the criteriaaccording to which an image is of memory and not the conditions underwhich one can introspectively know that this.