The Truth About Memory and Identity

Nada Gligorov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The moral condemnation of memory modifying technologies (MMTs) often relies on the view that memory provides a veridical representation of the past and that it can be used to ground personal identity. In this chapter, I present a range of studies that substantiate the claim that autobiographical memory is unreliable and cannot be used to ground narrative identity. I use this evidence to argue that MMTs that have the potential to alter autobiographical memory do not jeopardize personal identity. Given its flexibility, I argue, narrative identity can be maintained despite changes in memory. I further argue that maintenance of particular memories is not required for authenticity. Because of the spontaneous fluctuations of each person’s character traits, values, and preferences over time, I claim that first-person endorsement of core traits or the identification of core memories as formative of narrative identity is required to establish one’s true self. In addition, I dispute the argument that memory modification poses a challenge to authenticity and provide examples of instances where such modification can promote authenticity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Brain and Mind
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameStudies in Brain and Mind
ISSN (Print)1573-4536
ISSN (Electronic)2468-399X


  • Autobiographical Memory
  • Cognitive Enhancement
  • False Memory
  • Personal Identity
  • Traumatic Event


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