In the next Perspectives on Science seminar, we will have a special guest from Washington University: Carl F. Craver, giving a talk on “Memory and Time: Perspectives from Neuropsychology“.

The seminar takes place in hybrid format in person and online via Zoom from 10:00 to 12:00 on Friday the 19th of May 2023. To join the seminar, please contact for the location or Zoom invitation.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.


Amnesia and the Ordinary Conception of Time.

The thesis that the “ordinary conception of time” requires the capacity for episodic memory is common in neuroscience and philosophy alike. In neuropsychology, this thesis is expressed in the contrapositive thesis that people with episodic amnesia are “trapped in time.” In philosophy, it is expressed as the thesis episodic memory is a constitutive or developmental requirement for thinking and reasoning about time. Here I reconsider the neuropsychological thesis in light of evidence from my work with Shayna Rosenbaum to study people with episodic amnesia. I argue that people with episodic amnesia have the same temporal concepts, preferences, and decision-making quirks as do neurotypical controls. I conclude by considering why we ever thought memory could even possibly play this role as well as some rather mundane sources from which our ordinary conception of time might plausibly arise.

Author bio:

Carl F. Craver is professor of Philosophy in the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in St. Louis. His work is fueled and characterized by hands-on familiarity with the relevant sciences (including behavioral physiology, neuropsychology, functional imaging and psychiatric genetics). His books include Explaining the Brain (OUP; 2007) and (with Lindley Darden) In Search of Mechanisms (Chicago; 2013). He is the co-editor of two new collections, The Tools of Neuroscience Experiment (with J. Bickle and A. Barwich) and Mind Design III (forthcoming; with John Haugeland and Collin Klein). Craver also maintains a research program in cognitive neuropsychology, exploring the implications of episodic amnesia for the epistemic and moral lives of people with damage to the hippocampus and medial temporal lobes. His work is driven fundamentally by the quest to understand how persons are related to their biologies.