Memory as a Generative Epistemic Source

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Abstract

It is widely assumed that memory has only the capacity to preserve epistemic features that have been generated by other sources. Specifically, if S knows (justifiedly believes/rationally believes) that p via memory at T2, then it is argued that (i) S must have known (justifiedly believed/rationally believed) that p when it was originally acquired at T1, and (ii) S must have acquired knowledge that p (justification with respect to p/rationality with respect to p) at T1 via a non-memorial source. Thus, according to this view, memory cannot make an unknown proposition known, an unjustified belief justified, or an irrational belief rational–it can only preserve what is already known, justified, or rational. In this paper, I argue that condition (i) is false and, a fortiori, that condition (ii) is false. Hence, I show that, contrary to received wisdom in contemporary epistemology, memory can function as a generative epistemic source.

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