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MEMORY FOUNDATIONALISM AND THE PROBLEM OF UNFORGOTTEN CARELESSNESS By Robert Schroer Abstract : According to memory foundationalism, seeming to remember that P is prima facie justification for believing that P. There is a common objection to this theory: If I previously believed that P carelessly (i.e. without justification) and later seem to remember that P, then (according to memory foundationalism) I have somehow acquired justification for a previously unjustified belief. In this paper, I explore this objection. I begin by distinguishing between two versions of it: One where I seem to remember that P while also seeming to remember being careless in my original believing that P and the other where I seem to remember that P while not seeming to remember my past carelessness. I argue that the former case is the real challenge for memory foundationalism. After establishing the case of unforgotten carelessness as objection to memory foundationalism, I recast memory foundationalism in way that allows it to escape this objection. 1. A version of memory foundationalism I seem to remember that the White Sox beat the Twins last Sunday. What kind of justification do I have now , in virtue of this apparent memory, for believing that the White Sox really did beat the Twins? According to the “preservation theory” of memory 1 , the justification I have now for believing that the Sox beat the Twins is determined by the justification I had in the past for that belief—for example, it might be determined by the justification I had when I originally formed the belief while watching the game on TV. Under this theory, memory does not generate new justification for a belief; rather, it merely preserves whatever justification you previously had for it. 2 In contrast, the “foundationalist theory” maintains that an apparent memory can generate justification for a belief. 3 A memory foundationalist maintains that seeming to remember that P gives the subject a defeasible reason right now for believing that P, regardless of what reasons that subject had in the past for believing that P. 4 In short, the memory foundationalist thinks that: seeming to remember that P is prima facie justification for believing that P. 1
Some clarifications: Seeming to remember that P is not necessarily the same thing as actually remembering that P. A memory foundationalist can allow for the possibility that an apparent memory is not an actual memory; she can allow that a mental state that seems like a memory might not actually be one. 5 Furthermore, the expression ‘seeming to remember that P’ might be taken to refer to an apparent memory belief , to an apparent memory image , or to a combination of both. In this paper, I am going to focus on the case of apparent memory belief. Hence, when I speak of ‘seeming to remember that P’, you should assume that I am referring to an apparent memory belief and not an apparent memory image or a combination of belief and image.

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