Chisholm’s Mixed Position

August 23, 2012 — Leave a comment

Roderick Chisholm (1916 – 1999)

Internalism:

According to Chisholm, epistemology consists of two questions (Socratic foundations): “What can we know?” and “What are the criteria of knowledge?”

To answer the first question, one needs to distinguish things that are known from things that are unknown. Therefore one needs to know what he knows. That is to say, one needs to have answered the second question to answer the first. To answer the second question, one needs a list of things one knows in order to determine their attributes and list a criteria. Thus, one needs to answer the first question in order to answer the second. Those who start with the second question are ‘methodists’, those who start with the first ‘particularists’. Chisholm identified himself as a particularist, though offered no argument in contrary to a methodist approach.

With regard to internalism:

‘The internalist assumes that, merely by reflecting upon his own conscious state, he can formulate a set of epistemic principles that will enable him to find out, with respect to any possible belief he has, whether he is justified in having that belief. The epistemic principles that he formulates are principles that one may come upon and apply merely by sitting in one’s armchair, so to speak, and without calling for any outside assistance. In a word, one need only consider one’s own state of mind’

This seems to harken back to the cogito. Chisholm asserted that epistemological thought did not need the support of empirical evidence or the natural sciences. Chiholm therefore took issue with externalist doctrines such as reliabilism (which gained popularity toward the end of his life).

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