The metasemantics of memory
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- Goldberg, S.C. Philos Stud (2011) 153: 95. doi:10.1007/s11098-010-9642-9
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In Sven Bernecker’s excellent new book, Memory, he proposes an account of what we might call the “metasemantics” of memory: the conditions that determine the contents of the mental representations employed in memory. Bernecker endorses a “pastist externalist” view, according to which the content of a memory-constituting representation is fixed, in part, by the “external” conditions prevalent at the (past) time of the tokening of the original representation (the one from which the memory-constituting one is causally derived). Bernecker argues that the best version of a pastist externalism about memory contents will have the result that there can be semantically-induced memory losses in cases involving unwitting “world-switching”. The burden of this paper is to show that Bernecker’s argument for this conclusion does not succeed. My arguments on this score have implications for our picture of mind-world relations, as these are reflected in a subject’s attempts to recall her past thoughts.