Full Text

problem of the criterion


Subject Philosophy » Epistemology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405139007.2010.x


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

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:


     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.

[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top