Chisholm's The Problem Of The Criterion

The problem of the criterion is one of the key issues in epistemology. In The Problem of the Criterion, R.M. Chisholm successfully argues that through the particularist method we can sort the truth from the fallacies. Chisholm manages this by laying out a procedure to sort true beliefs from false beliefs and setting fair conditions on the particularist’s method.
The problem of the criterion, as laid out by Chisholm is “the vicious circle” (1982, p. 61) or descending into an infinite regress. To distinguish true cases of knowledge, Chisholm highlights what Cardinal Mercer has to say on this topic: that “criterion should satisfy three conditions: it should be internal, objective, and immediate” (1982, pg. 63, emphasis in original). Chisholm
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Chisholm believes that “there are many things that quite obviously, we do know to be true,” (p. 69) and this is done through following what our senses tell us. Ultimately, “the senses should be regarded as innocent [until proven guilty]” (p. 70). From our senses, our memory, and our intellect we can “begin with particular cases of knowledge and then generalize and formulate criteria of goodness” (p. 70) because of the knowledge we already hold. A person must be self-presenting to trust their senses. To do so, the person must “i. [be] in that state at that time and ii. It is necessarily true that [they are] in that state at that time, then it is evident that [they are] in that state at that time” (p. 72) If these two conditions are not met, the person cannot trust their senses and lacks a foundation for justifying their beliefs. It is important to be able to trust our senses, because as St. Thomas says, “the intellect knows that it possesses the truth by reflecting on itself” (p. …show more content…
One cannot appeal to external sources to determine fact from fiction, and they must have some knowledge of what they believe before they can justify their belief. In dealing with propositions, a direct belief that “is a necessary proposition such that one cannot understand it without thereby knowing that it is true” (p. 73) is known as either “a priori” or an axiom. The two, however, have different conditions for them to be considered as true. For a proposition to be axiomatic it must “i. [be] necessarily true and ii. it is also necessarily true that if the person believes that proposition, the proposition is then evident to [them]” (p. 73). For a proposition to be a priori, either “I. the proposition is one that is axiomatic for the subject at that time, or else ii. the proposition is one such that it is evident to the [person] at that time that the proposition is entailed by a set of propositions that are axiomatic for [them] at that time” (p. 73). For any of these to be followed, these beliefs must be “directly, or immediately evident” (p. 73, emphasis in

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