‘Imagining to Remember’, Duquesne University Graduate Students in Philosophy Conference (Theme: Memory), Pittsburgh, USA
Full title: To what extent is memory dependent on imagination and what are the implications of this for the reliability of memory?, ESPP (European Society of Philosophy and Psychology) 2017, University of Herefordshire, UK
Full title ‘On addressing Prejudice by watching our mouths - scepticism towards Leslie’s conceptual engineering’, Open Session talk at the Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and Mind Association 2017, University of Edinburgh
Full Title: On addressing prejudice by watching our mouths, Notes on Sarah Jane-Leslie. 24th ESPP Annual Meeting (European Society of Philosophy and Psychology), University of St Andrews, UK
21/07/2017 ‘Imagining to Remember’ - Workshop: Memory, Mental Time Travel, and Self-Control, University of Roma Tre, Rome, Italy
Abstract (as sent then):
Assume that we do have intentional states (ie: beliefs, desires, hopes, fears, etc.). Starting with Searle, philosophers have claimed that a certain feature of intentional states, their direction of fit, provides a useful metaphor to understand their nature. Direction of fit can, it is claimed, help us distinguish between kinds of intentional states; beliefs and desires, for instance. The purported key difference between beliefs and desires will be my focus in this talk, since it takes center stage in some philosophical debates. For one, it has been thought to weigh in favour of the Humean in the Humean vs anti-Humean debate about motivation, which disputes whether belief, by itself, can motivate action (eg: Smith 1994). Further, whether we agree with the direction of fit characterization of beliefs also has implications for how we account for doxastic norms and the plausibility of choosing to believe. My talk will first bring light on what direction of fit is, and how it might help us distinguish various intentional states. Then, after highlighting how it characterizes beliefs and desires and the implications of such characterization, I will raise doubts towards the adequacy of this picture.
Abstract (as sent then): Christine Korsgaard attempts to ground the normativity of the principles of practical reason in the necessity of action. I will quickly dismiss David Enoch's objection to deriving the normativity of the principles of practical reason from what is constitutive of action, famous in current literature as 'The Shmagency Objection'. I will examine, more interestingly, the question of whether the formal categorical imperative (the law of acting according to maxims that you can will as universal laws), is a plausible requirement for distinguishing one’s self from one’s impulses - whether in order for an action to be my action, I must be willing it universally, and what doing so truly means.
Abstract (as sent then) : In this talk, I first argued that imagination has been too neglected a component of our beliefs. My argument will take off by considering the relationship between belief and delusion and, doing so, offer a resolution of the debate between doxasticists (who see delusions as a kind of belief) and metacognitivists (who see delusions as an imagining). Once my case is made, I will aim to shed some light on the nature and kind(s) of imagination hereby involved and touch very briefly on the implications this may (or may not) have for mindreading (i.e.: attributing mental states to others.
Away at IJN for several months (Institut Jean Nicod, ENS/EHESS) ( I therefore gave less internal talks that year)
Reviewer for Arche Graduate conference
Abstract (as sent then):
I examine claims defending memory’s dependence on imagination, and what it implies for the reliability of memory. I dismiss the claim that recent neuroimaging evidence showing that imagining future scenarios and remembering past events activates similar areas of the brain strongly suggest a dependence of memory on imagination by itself. But I argue that when considered alongside cases of imagination inflation, it might suggest some dependence of episodic memory on imagination, which sometimes makes its recollection less reliable. I argue first that this dependence may have been overstated by those defenders of reconstructive views of episodic memory and that it fails to distinguish between at least two types of imagination involved, which I call p-simulation and f-imagination. I will make the case that the dependency of memory on f-imagination, rather than rendering it unreliable at large, makes it generally more
reliable. I defend that the dependence of memory on imagination is overall pragmatically advantageous and suggest that memory’s function concerns the accurate prediction of future events more so than the veridical depiction of the past.
Beyond this pragmatic advantage, I defend, through an argument from economy, that it is plausibly epistemically beneficial for us to have evolved a mechanism that makes the recollection of events reliant on imagination as it allows us to encode more episodes coherently, using processes such as chunking, and allowing for the elimination of some non-crucial information thereby accumulating more accurate information about the world and being able to exploit common inferential mechanisms to accrue more knowledge than otherwise.
Abstract (as sent then):
In response to Stich and Nichols and other recent accounts, Peter Langland-Hassan (2012) argues that similarities between belief and pretence (eg: in affect - pretending and believing give rise to similar emotions, inferentially: when I pretend the banana is a telephone, I pick it up in the same manner I would pick up a phone,…) can best be accounted for by positing that imagining just is a special kind of belief. I examine what exactly this Single attitude theory proposes, the puzzles it aims to solve, and reject its plausibility.
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