Carl Craver “Episodic Memory, Regret, and other Self-Evaluative Emotions.”


I will workshop a chapter draft (describing research done with my collaborator, R. Shayna Rosenbaum) that investigates self-evaluative emotions in individuals with episodic amnesia. In particular, I will be concerned with emotions such as pride, shame, and guilt, as these emotions plausibly conceptually require one to remember past events as past events (as beautifully argued by Hoerl et al.) and to think about those events counterfactually (as suggested by de Brigard’s neuroimaging studies). Is episodic memory necessary for one to acquire or maintain the understanding of time implicit in these self-evaluative emotions? Evidence of pride, shame and regret, and of an understanding of these self-evaluative emotions, in individuals with episodic amnesia casts doubt on the strong, apparently conceptual association between those emotions and episodic memory. They also demonstrate in individuals with episodic amnesia capacities for moral reflection one might incorrectly suppose they lack on the basis of those strong, and apparently conceptual associations. So looking at these individuals provides a useful occasion to think about the cognitive requirements of self-evaluative emotions (i.e., components of their mechanistic realization) and for questioning common moral intuitions about what the lives of persons with memory deficits must be like.