Date: April 10th, 2019
Time/Location: 12:00-1:30 in Kresge 3438
Title: Memorial Testimony
Abstract: Philosophers have often spoken of the testimony of the senses. Sense-experience provides us with information, and the forms in which we receive information from it are of multiple kinds. Is the same true of memory? What we remember propositionally is actually the case, and remembered objects and events are parts of the actual history of the world, just as what we see or touch is part of its current history. To be sure, memory, as a “faculty,” may deliver misinformation, as where we have a false memory impression of closing a window. But misinformation may also come from perception, and even where there are non-semantic errors of memory, we might think of memory as in some way attesting to something. What I call memorial testimony comes in both propositional and other forms. Calling it testimony seems appropriate given its similarity to the testimony of the senses and, especially in its propositional forms, to ordinary testimony by people—agential testimony. Memorial testimony is similar to agential testimony in at least four ways: the “testimony” of memory bears information; receiving that information is normally non-inferential; believing, on the basis of memory, a proposition expressing the information is normally justified; and, when a genuine memory belief is true, it is normally a case of remembering and constitutes knowledge. Memory and testimony differ, however, in how they yield justification and knowledge. This paper provides brief accounts of each as sources of knowledge and justification and describes important similarities and essential differences. These differences are not only epistemological but also concern matters of content, semantics, phenomenology, and relations to other sources of knowledge.