Memory, Knowledge and Epistemic Competence
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Sosa (2007) claims that a necessary condition on knowledge is manifesting an epistemic competence. To manifest an epistemic competence, a belief must satisfy two conditions: (1) it must derive from the exercise of a reliable belief-forming disposition in appropriate conditions for its exercise and (2) that exercise of the disposition in those conditions would not issue a false belief in a close possible world. Drawing on recent psychological research, I show that memories that are issued by episodic memory retrieval fail to satisfy either of these conditions. This presents Sosa, and other proponents of similar conditions (e.g. some safety theorists and process reliabilists), with a dilemma: (1) deny that episodic memories count as knowledge or (2) give up the conditions as necessary conditions on knowledge. I explore the implications of this dilemma for our understanding of knowledge, memory and the relationship between them.
I owe thanks to Ernie Sosa, Alvin Goldman and two anonymous reviewers for this journal for their helpful comments and suggestions. I am also grateful to Katy Meadows for a series of invaluable discussions.
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