Episodic Memory, Time, and Agency: Some Constraints from Neuropsychology
A lecture by Carl Craver, Professor of Philosophy and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Abstract: People with episodic amnesia are frequently said to be stuck in time, trapped in a permanent present tense, and altogether lacking a subjective sense of temporality. These claims are grounded in the well-characterized inability of persons with episodic amnesia to perform much above floor on standard questionnaire tests assaying their ability to remember past personal episodes and to imagine vividly what one might do in the future. I review recent empirical work demonstrating several distinct varieties of temporal knowledge and sensitivity in people with acquired or developmental cases of episodic amnesia. These studies raise doubts about whether the sense of time, mental time travel, and (indeed) episodic memory constitute well-formed psychological kinds. At very least, they caution against a pernicious kind of semantic creep common in (psychological) science.