CFP: Special issue on “The Problem of the Criterion”

Call for Papers: ‘The Problem of the Criterion’

Special Issue of Philosophical Papers (South Africa)
Guest Editor: Mark Nelson (Westmont College)

The problem of the criterion is one of the most ancient and enduring questions of philosophical methodology. Attributed to Agrippa, the dialellus or ‘wheel’ became a staple of skeptical arguments from Sextus to Montaigne, but it was perhaps given its best-known formulation by R.M. Chisholm:

“To know whether things really are as they seem to be, we must have a procedure for distinguishing appearances that are true from appearances that are false. But to know whether our procedure is a good procedure, we have to know whether it really succeeds in distinguishing appearances that are true from appearances that are false. And we cannot know whether it does really succeed unless we already know which appearances are true and which ones are false. And so we are caught in a circle.” [‘The Problem of the Criterion’, 1982]

This problem admits of several interpretations, resists easy solution, and lurks at the bottom of philosophical reflection on knowledge and method in any topic, yet it has received only one book-length treatment in Anglophone philosophy in the last fifty years, Robert Amico’s The Problem of the Criterion (1993). Possible topics for discussion include:

  • The problem of the criterion in ancient, modern (Montaigne, Hume, Reid, Hegel), or 20th C epistemology (Moore, Wittgenstein)
  • The problem of the criterion as an interpretation or form of skepticism
  • The relevance of the problem of the criterion to various kinds of knowledge, e.g., moral, religious, aesthetic, of other minds
  • Substantive and methodological commitments in philosophy
  • Basic knowledge and the problem of the criterion
  • Intuitionism and the problem of the criterion
  • Philosophical disagreement and the problem of the criterion
  • The problem of the criterion and the method of reflective equilibrium
  • The problem of the criterion and the foundationalism/coherentism dichotomy

The deadline for receipt of submission is 30 June 2011. This special edition of Philosophical Papers, which will contain both invited and submitted papers, will appear in November of 2011. Authors are encouraged to submit manuscripts electronically, prepared as a PDF or Word document attachment, and emailed to <philosophical.papers@ru.ac.za>. Authors should include their full name, affiliation, and address for email correspondence with their submission. Further enquiries can be addressed to Mark Nelson (mailto:Lucy.Allais@Wits.ac.za) or Ward Jones, Editor, Philosophical Papers (w.jones@ru.ac.za).

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