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In folk psychology, we talk about beliefs. For instance, you can ask someone, why did you increase your investment in the stock market? He may say, well, I believe that the stock market will likely go up. He might even give you specific probability distributions (more granular belief) about different future stock returns.

However, from a "mechanical" standpoint, it seems to me that this "belief" --- if formed before the decision (investment) is made --- must be a form of memory. That is, the person may have done analyses earlier and somehow decided that the stock market is likely to go up, and that thought is stored as either long-term or short-term memory in his brain.

(Of course, it is also possible that his stated "belief" is an ex-post rationalization of his actions. In that case, it is not even a memory.)

Is what I am saying correct? Can there be "beliefs" (in folk psychology parlance) that are not just a specific type of memory?

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  • $\begingroup$ There are also implicit beliefs for example, such as "airplanes are louder than bicycles" or "87234 > 2.81", which you would believe long before explicitly forming it as memory (if ever). $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jun 24 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg good point. I guess those require both retrieving from memory and doing some on-line computation. For instance, I need to remember what airplanes sound like, what bicycles sound like, and do a comparison in my mind? $\endgroup$
    – J Li
    Jun 24 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, but you can also hold a belief like "airplanes are louder than botflies" without having any memory of what a botfly sounds like. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Jun 24 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ @ArnonWeinberg I agree. In this case, I will be extrapolating from other memory. I know that flies are not too noisy, and I assume that botflies are like regular flies. $\endgroup$
    – J Li
    Jun 26 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ There is a perspective by which almost any mental process could be thought of as memory, e.g., see this paper. philpapers.org/rec/KLEWMI. "Memory" is often a misleading word when taken that broadly though, as it is often read to imply awareness, etc. $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 10:29

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