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problem of the criterion

MATTHIAS STEUP


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405139007.2010.x


Extract

This is the problem of how both to formulate the criteria , and to determine the extent , of knowledge and justified belief. The following account will focus on justification. The problem arises from the seeming plausibility of the following two propositions: (1)  I can identify instances (and thus determine the extent) of justified belief only if I already know the criteria of it. (2)   I can know the criteria of justified belief only if I can already identify the instances of it. If both (1) and (2) were true, I would be caught in a circle: I could know neither the criteria nor the extent of justified belief. In order to show that both can be known after all, a way out of the circle must be found. The nature of this task is best illustrated by considering the four positions that may be taken concerning the truth values of (1) and (2): (a)  Scepticism as to the possibility of constructing a theory of justification: Both (1) and (2) are true; consequently, I can know neither the criteria nor the extent of justified belief. (This kind of scepticism is restricted in its scope to epistemic propositions. While it allows for the possibility of justified beliefs, it denies that we can know which beliefs are justified and which are not.) (b)  (2) is true but (1) is false: I can identify instances of justification without applying a criterion. (c)  (1) is true but (2) is false: ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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