Wednesday 19 February 2014

Memory, Emotions and Epistemic Values

My name is Marina Trakas and I am finishing a PhD on philosophy of memory. I am affiliated with the Department of Cognitive Science at Macquarie University (Sydney) and the Institut Jean Nicod (Paris), working under the supervision of John Sutton and Jérôme Dokic.
My project aims to develop a general framework for understanding the content of autobiographical and episodic memory experiences as they are lived by human beings in everyday situations. In my thesis, first, I defend the idea that our memories can change through time and so their content can be “enriched” as well as the thesis that our episodic and autobiographical memories cannot be always reduced to a simple verbal description of what happened in our past but they are often charged with evaluative and emotional components. Second, I explore the implications of this conceptualization of our autobiographical and personal memories for judging when our memory experience is faithful to our past. For these purposes, I approach these topics from an interdisciplinary perspective, taking in consideration not only research on philosophy –contemporary philosophy as well as philosophers from XIX and beginning of XX century– but also current research on cognitive psychology and even neurosciences. 
I structure this defence in three major sections.

Friday 7 February 2014

Imperfect Cognitions and Aging

Aleea Devitt
In our first blog post we discussed how a consequence of the constructive nature of memory is that we are susceptible to memory distortions. In this post I hope to bring together theories of how changes in the brain can increase susceptibility to false beliefs and memories as we age.

Healthy aging is associated with reduced memory accuracy, as well as increased susceptibility to memory distortions, which can have serious consequences on the quality of life for older adults. For example, an individual might be confused about whether they had taken their medication or just imagined taking it. Older adults also tend to be more confident in their memory errors, which can have implications for everyday social interactions as well as more formal situations such as eye witness testimony.

Thursday 6 February 2014

Implicit Bias and the Underrepresentation of Women in Philosophy

Helen Beebee
I am a professor of philosophy at the University of Manchester. My research is mostly in the area of metaphysics, but I am also co-chair of the British Philosophical Association/Society for Women in Philosophy (UK) committee for women in philosophy, and I have recently been spending quite a lot of time thinking about unconscious bias and the role it might play in the underrepresentation of women in philosophy.

Women are unquestionably underrepresented in philosophy. In the UK, women make up about half of all philosophy undergraduates, but only about 30% of PhD candidates and 20% of professors – a figure nearly as low as in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The numbers are similar in the USA, Australia and elsewhere. There are doubtless many and varied reasons for this, but – in a discipline in which, like STEM disciplines, the dominant stereotype is male – implicit bias surely plays a major role.