The epistemic relevance of morphological content

Acta Analytica 25 (2):155-173 (2010)
Morphological content is information that is implicitly embodied in the standing structure of a cognitive system and is automatically accommodated during cognitive processing without first becoming explicit in consciousness. We maintain that much belief-formation in human cognition is essentially morphological : i.e., it draws heavily on large amounts of morphological content, and must do so in order to tractably accommodate the holistic evidential relevance of background information possessed by the cognitive agent. We also advocate a form of experiential evidentialism concerning epistemic justification—roughly, the view that the justification-status of an agent’s beliefs is fully determined by the character of the agent’s conscious experience. We have previously defended both the thesis that much belief-formation is essentially morphological, and also a version of evidentialism. Here we explain how experiential evidentialism can be smoothly and plausibly combined with the thesis that much of the cognitive processing that generates justified beliefs is essentially morphological. The leading idea is this: even though epistemically relevant morphological content does not become explicit in consciousness during the process of belief-generation, nevertheless such content does affect the overall character of conscious experience in an epistemically significant way: it is implicit in conscious experience, and is implicitly appreciated by the experiencing agent.
Keywords Morphological content  Experiential evidentialism  Chromatic illumination  Epistemic justification  Background  Implicit and explicit information
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DOI 10.1007/s12136-010-0091-z
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