Remembering Dreams: The Problem of Reference in Memories of Non-veridical Experiences
Abstract: Episodic memories are widely assumed to be factive: Saying that somebody remembers something presupposes that the ascribed mnemonic content is true and the descriptions used to express it have existing referents. In this respect the verb “remember” aligns with ordinary uses of perceptual verbs such as “see” and “hear”. The Causal Theory of Memory (Martin & Deutscher, 1966, Bernecker 2010) promises to explain the factivity of memory in two steps: (i) In the original perception a causal chain results in a categorial representation of the perceived object. (ii) The so obtained reference relation is passed on from the perception to the remembering event by a memory trace, which extends the causal link and transmits categorial representational content. Theories that deny the necessity of a content-preserving memory trace, such as Simulationism (Michaelian 2016) and Trace-Minimalism (Werning, 2020), prima facie, fare worse in explaining the reference relations of memories. However, this assessment changes when one also considers memories of non-veridical experiences such as dreams. Here causal links to their (counterfactual) intentional objects are typically not available. Still anaphoric reference relations between memory and dream content seem to hold. Even correctness conditions apply. It is possible to misremember what you have dreamt. In line with Blumberg (2018), we develop a parasitic account of the reference relations of mnemonic contents: Memories are referentially fully dependent on the original experiences, be they veridical or not. To establish this view, one only needs to single out the experience in question by an appropriate causal link to the remembering event. A transmission of categorial representational content is not necessary. The resulting view is in accordance with Trace-Minimalism.
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