Erkenntnis

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 399–424 | Cite as

The Epistemology of Forgetting

Original Research

Abstract

The default view in the epistemology of forgetting is that human memory would be epistemically better if we were not so susceptible to forgetting—that forgetting is in general a cognitive vice. In this paper, I argue for the opposed view: normal human forgetting—the pattern of forgetting characteristic of cognitively normal adult human beings—approximates a virtue located at the mean between the opposed cognitive vices of forgetting too much and remembering too much. I argue, first, that, for any finite cognizer, a certain pattern of forgetting is necessary if her memory is to perform its function well. I argue, second, that, by eliminating “clutter” from her memory store, this pattern of forgetting improves the overall shape of the subject’s total doxastic state. I conclude by reviewing work in psychology which suggests that normal human forgetting approximates this virtuous pattern of forgetting.

Keywords

Memory System True Belief Human Memory Recognition Heuristic Objective Interest 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Thanks to Louise Antony, Charles Clifton, Hilary Kornblith, Chris Lepock, Joëlle Proust, Jonathan Schaffer, John Sutton, two anonymous referees, and audiences at an APIC seminar at the Institut Jean-Nicod and the 2010 meeting of the Dutch-Flemish Society for Analytic Philosophy for comments. The preparation of this article was supported in part by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche, under the contract ANR–08.BLAN–0205–01.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Jean-Nicod (CNRS-EHESS-ENS)ParisFrance

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