Confabulation and collective cognition

  • Sophie Stammers (Invited speaker)

Activity: Academic and Industrial eventsGuest lecture or Invited talk


Talk delivered at University of Stirling Philosophy Department's visiting speaker

"Analysis of the epistemic features of confabulation tend to focus on its epistemic costs. Confabulatory explanations, which can accompany some mental health issues, as well as occurring in the non-clinical population, are not grounded in evidence, and so the beliefs that they generate tend to misrepresent the features which shape our choices. In this talk, I demonstrate that confabulation is “epistemically innocent” – in that, whilst it certainly carries epistemic costs, it also confers significant epistemic benefits that would be unavailable to the agent had they not confabulated. Previous research conceptualizes the confabulator as an isolated cognitive unit, abstracted from their interactions with other individuals. However, drawing on numerous studies in collective cognition, I demonstrate that in order to give a full assessment of the epistemic nature of a cognitive phenomenon, we must conceptualize the individual in the context of their cognitive collaborations. I argue that when the confabulator is considered in this context, confabulation has epistemic benefits for the reason that it preserves the collective cognitive partnerships on which individuals rely for much of their knowledge acquisition. Interventions with confabulators must be sensitive to these epistemic benefits to ensure that confabulations are replaced with genuinely epistemically better cognitions."
Period2 Feb 2017
Held atUniversity of Stirling, United Kingdom