Causation and mnemonic roles: on Fernández’s Functionalism




episodic memory, functionalism, mnemonic role, realization, ceteris paribus laws


Debates about causation have dominated recent philosophy of memory. While causal theorists have argued that an appropriate causal connection to a past experience is necessary for remembering, their opponents have argued that this necessity condition needs to be relaxed. Recently, Jordi Fernández (2018; 2019) has attempted to provide such a relaxation. On his functionalist theory of remembering, a given state need not be caused by a past experience to qualify as a memory; it only has to realize the relevant functional role in the subject’s mental economy. In this comment, I argue that Fernández’s theory doesn’t advance the debate about memory causation. I propose that this debate is best understood as being about the existence of systems, which support kinds of interactions that map onto the relations dictated by (causal) theories. Since Fernández’s functionalism tells us very little about this empirical question, the theoretical gains from endorsing it are minimal.

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Author Biography

Nikola Andonovski, Grenoble Alpes University

He received his PhD from the Department of Philosophy at Johns Hopkins University in 2020. He is currently affiliated with the Centre for Philosophy of Memory at the Université Grenoble Alpes. His research lies at the intersection of philosophy and the sciences of memory. He is interested in the representational structure of episodic memory, the nature of consolidation and the relationship between memory and reasoning.


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How to Cite

Andonovski, N. (2021). Causation and mnemonic roles: on Fernández’s Functionalism. Estudios De Filosofía, (64), 139–153.

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