Against Representative Realism

Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 111)

In the previous chapter we have discussed some of the common objections to direct realism about memory – the co-temporality objection, the argument from hallucination, and the claim that direct realism is incompatible with the causal theory of memory. It turned out that none of these objections holds up under scrutiny. In this chapter I will continue to defend direct realism by showing that the alternative position, representative realism, has most unfortunate epistemological consequences. Representative realism inevitably leads to skepticism about memory knowledge.

Section 6.1 explains the skeptical problem which is brought about by representative realism about memory. A popular response to the skeptical challenge involves the posit of so-called “memory markers,” that is, intrinsic features of (seeming) memory experiences which indicate that they provide information about the past. Sections 6.2 and 6.3 examine a variety of accounts of memory markers and show that none of them are convincing. Section 6.4 discusses alternative strategies for neutralizing skepticism about memory knowledge by way of validation of ostensible memories and finds all of them wanting. In the end, the only promising strategy available to the representative realist for neutralizing skepticism about memory knowledge is to adopt epistemic externalism. This proposal is elaborated in chapter 7.


External World Memory Experience Memory Image Skeptical Hypothesis Representative Realism 
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© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

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