Epistemology is a branch of philosophy that deals with the study of knowledge and beliefs. It examines how we acquire knowledge and how we can differentiate between true beliefs and false ones.

However, one of the biggest challenges in epistemology is finding criterion or a standard for determining which beliefs are justified or warranted. In this article, we will explore why finding criterion is such a problem in epistemology.

What is Criterion?

Criterion refers to a standard or rule that can be used to determine whether a belief is justified or not. In epistemology, criterion is essential because it helps us determine whether our beliefs are based on good reasons or not. Without criterion, we would not be able to differentiate between true beliefs and false ones.

The Problem with Finding Criterion

The problem with finding criterion in epistemology is that there are many different theories about what constitutes justification. Some philosophers argue that justification comes from empirical evidence, while others argue that it comes from coherence with other beliefs. Still others argue that justification comes from intuition or direct experience.

Empiricism

Empiricists believe that justification comes from empirical evidence. This means that our beliefs are justified if they can be supported by scientific observation or experimentation. For example, if we believe that smoking causes cancer, this belief is justified because it can be supported by scientific studies.

However, there are problems with this view. One problem is that not all beliefs can be tested through scientific observation or experimentation. For example, ethical beliefs cannot be tested in this way.

Coherence Theory

Coherence theorists believe that justification comes from coherence with other beliefs. This means that our beliefs are justified if they fit together coherently with other beliefs we hold to be true. For example, if we believe that honesty is important and also believe it’s wrong to steal, then the belief that stealing is wrong is justified because it coheres with our other beliefs.

However, there are problems with this view as well. One problem is that coherence can be subjective and dependent on our individual beliefs. What one person finds coherent might not be coherent to another.

Intuition

Finally, some philosophers argue that justification comes from intuition or direct experience. This means that our beliefs are justified if they are self-evident or immediately known to us. For example, the belief that we exist is justified because it is self-evident – we cannot doubt our own existence.

However, there are problems with this view too. One problem is that intuition can be unreliable and prone to error. We may have intuitions about things that turn out to be false.

Conclusion

In conclusion, finding criterion in epistemology is a challenging task because there are many different theories of justification. Empiricism, coherence theory, and intuition all offer different standards for determining which beliefs are justified or warranted.

However, each of these theories has its own problems and limitations. As such, the search for criterion in epistemology continues to be a topic of debate among philosophers today.