Roderick Chisholm’s Solution to “The Problem of the Criterion” In this paper, I will argue that Roderick Chisholm fails to give an adequate solution to the problem of the criterion. According to Chisholm, the problem of the criterion is the ancient problem of “the wheel” or “vicious circle” (Chisholm, 77). Chisholm explains the problem of the criterion by stating that in order to know whether things are as they seem to be, we must have a procedure for recognizing things that are true from things that are false (Chisholm, 77).
He then states that to know if the procedure is a good one, we have to know if it really recognizes things that are true from things that are false, and that we cannot know whether it really does succeed unless we already know what things are true and what things are false (Chisholm, 77). Thus, we are caught in a circle (Chisholm, 77). Chisholm states two questions that he says express some of the philosophical issues that are involved with the problem of the criterion. Question “A” says, “What do we know? What is the extent of our knowledge? and question “B” says, “How are we to decide whether we know? What are the criteria of knowledge? ” (Chisholm, 79). Chisholm considers a skeptical solution for the problem of the criterion and, two non-skeptical solutions for the problem of the criterion (Chisholm, 80). One of the non-skeptical solutions Chisholm considers is “methodism”. According to Chisholm, “methodists” are those who think that they have an answer to question “B” and from that, they can then figure out the answer to question “A” (Chisholm, 80).
The other non-skeptical solution Chisholm presents is “particularism”. According to Chisholm, “particularists” are those who think they have an answer to question “A” and from that, they can then figure out the answer to question “B” (Chisholm, 80). Chisholm himself prefers the non-skeptical solution to the problem of the criterion of “particularism” (Chisholm, 81). Chisholm argues that there are things that we know to be true (Chisholm, 81).
He claims that if we report to someone what we are now seeing, hearing, and feeling then the chances are that the report will be correct and that we must trust our senses (Chisholm, 81). On the other hand Chisholm presents the fact that people often think they see, hear, or feel things that they do not really see, hear, or feel, and that the senses do sometimes deceive us (Chisholm, 81). Similarly, Chisholm states that the same things can be argued about what we remember (Chisholm, 81).
After Chisholm presents these points he brings up an epistemological principle that was formulated by St. Augustine which demonstrates Chisholm’s argument, “It is more reasonable to trust the senses that to distrust them. Even though there have been illusions and hallucinations, the wise thing, when everything seems all right, is to accept the testimony of the senses. ” (Chisholm, 81). I object to Chisholm’s argument because it fails to give an adequate solution to the problem of the criterion.
Although it is explained well, it does not solve the problem. Chisholm gives explanations of the skeptical and non-skeptical solutions that seem to alleviate the problem, but after reading this article I was left with the same question in my mind, “What came first? The chicken or the egg. ”
Bibliography 1. Chisholm, Roderick (1973). “The Problem of the Criterion. ” In Philosophical inquiry, Adler and Elgin (eds). Indianapolis: Hackett 77-85.