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The Role of Memory in Agential Self-Knowledge

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 January 2020

Ben Sorgiovanni*
The Queen’s College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK


Agentialism about self-knowledge (hereafter simply “agentialism”) is the view that key to understanding our capacity for self-knowledge is appreciating the connection between that capacity and our identities as rational agents—as creatures for whom believing, intending, desiring, and so on are manifestations of a capacity to be responsive to reasons. This connection, agentialists maintain, consists in the fact that coming to know our own minds involves an exercise of our rational capacities in the service of answering the relevant first-order question. Agentialists face the task of accounting for the connection between our identities as rational agents and our capacity to know our stored beliefs. It’s plausible that one comes to know that one believes that p by exercising one’s rational capacities in those cases where the belief that p is formed on the basis of present consideration of the reasons for and against p. But what exactly is the relevance of our rational capacities in the case where one has already formed the belief in question? In this paper I provide an answer to this question. That answer involves an appeal to a particular model of memory. According to the model I favor, memory preserves, in addition to the content of one’s beliefs, one’s commitment to their truth.

© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Canadian Journal of Philosophy

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