Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Neil Van Leeuwen

Second Advisor

Andrew Altman

Third Advisor

Marise Parent


The horizon of clinical memory modification, long the domain of science fiction, is rapidly approaching; it is therefore imperative that we understand the ethical implications of such neuromodificatory technologies. We might begin such inquiry with the public’s worries about these technologies, namely that modifying memory will concomitantly modify the self. Yet, before discerning the reasonableness of this worry, we must understand the meaning of “the self” in relation to memory. Distilling this conception of the self is the principal aim of this thesis. I argue that many popular self-conceptions cannot capture our worries about neuromodification. Hence, I distill a novel such conception, which I call the Proustian Self—marshaling, to that end, not only neuroscientific evidence and metaphysical arguments but also literary-phenomenological analysis. I ultimately argue that this conception should be the target of further neuroethical inquiry regarding the prospect memory modification and its effects on putative patients.

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