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Chisholm, Roderick (1916-)

richard foley

Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631192589.1993.x


Chisholm is an American philosopher who has been influential in a number of different areas of philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. He was an undergraduate at Brown University and then a graduate student at Harvard in 1938–42. After finishing his studies, he served in the military as a clinical psychologist. He then returned to Brown University in 1947. where he remained on the faculty until his retirement. In 1942 Chisholm published in Mind his first paper on epistemology, ‘The problem of the speckled hen’. Since then, he has addressed every major problem in epistemology. The most important of his writings on epistemology are Perceiving (1957), The Foundations of Knowing (1982), and, most famously, the 1966, 1977 and 1989 editions of Theory of Knowledge. The result of all this work is an epistemological system whose scope and subtlety are unsurpassed in the twentieth century. At the base of Chisholm's system is a basic notion of justification, which he uses to give definitions of various terms of epistemic appraisal. For example, in the third edition of Theory of Knowledge (hereafter TK 3), he defines ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ as follows: p is beyond reasonable doubt for an individual S = df S is more justified in believing p than in withholding judgement on p. In addition, he defines when p is certain (nothing is more justified for ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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