Punishing the Crime of Forgetting
Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, Vol.9, 2020
Posted: 10 Apr 2020
Date Written: April 9, 2020
Although many people think that forgetting is a problemin life, and it often is, they would do well to appreciate thebenefits of forgetting. Fawcett and Hulbert (2020) have mar-shaled a powerful argument for the adaptive value of forgetting,highlighting the many ways that forgetting is both a commonand essential feature of cognition. Their arguments have impli-cations for memory as it plays out in real life, but here wefocus on implications in the legal realm. We make two majorpoints. First, within the legal system, forgetting on the partof criminal defendants can transcend mere embarrassment orinconvenience, and can actually implicate defendants in crimi-nal acts. Second, forgetting in relation to trauma and victimhoodcan be complicated and controversial, with some victims pre-ferring to retain their painful memories, even at a personalcost.
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