Eliminating the Problem of Stored Beliefs

American Philosophical Quarterly 55 (1):63-79 (2018)
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The problem of stored beliefs is that of explaining how non-occurrent, seemingly justified beliefs are indeed justified. Internalism about epistemic justification, the view that one’s mental life alone determines what one is justified in believing, allegedly cannot solve this problem. This paper provides a solution. It asks: Does having a belief that p require having a special relation to a mental representation that p? If the answer is yes, then there are no stored beliefs, and so there is no problem. Drawing on extensive research in cognitive psychology, this paper argues that memory doesn’t store the representations required for stored belief, and we don’t bear the special relation to anything memory does store. On the leading “no” answer, a belief is roughly a set of dispositions. This paper argues that a justified belief is then best understood as a set of dispositions. Since these dispositions are mental, internalism can count the right stored beliefs as justified.

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Matthew Frise
Santa Clara University


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