chapter  3
The Functional Character of Memory
ByJordi Fernández
Pages 21

What does it take for a mental state to qualify as remembering some event episodically? According to the narrative picture of memory, a subject remembers an event episodically when her current experience coheres well with those mental states of the subject that concern that event. By contrast, according to the causal theory of memory, a subject remembers an event episodically when her current experience originates in a past perceptual experience of the subject that concerns that event. I argue that both proposals are too strict and too liberal. They allow some experiences that, intuitively, are not memories to qualify as memories. And they prevent some experiences that, intuitively, are memories from qualifying as such. Drawing on the philosophical literature on functionalism, I suggest that remembering episodically is the higher-order state of having some experience that plays a certain causal role in the subject. I argue that this proposal is not too strict. It allows, for example, for the possibility of memory reconstruction. And I also argue that the functionalist proposal it is not too liberal. It rules out, for example, episodes of confabulation as memories.