FOUNDATIONALISM

ABOUT EMPIRICAL KNOWLEDGE:

A CHISHOLMIAN ACCOUNT

 

A. Terminology

 

1. Talbott's Suggestions For Understanding Chisholm's Terminology:

 

(a) evident: Proposition P is evident to S =df. It is rational for S to be certain that P.

(b) beyond reasonable doubt: Proposition P is beyond reasonable doubt to S =df It is reasonable for S to be almost certain of P.

(c) reasonable: Proposition P is reasonable for S =df It is rational for S to be highly confident that P.

(d) acceptable: Proposition P is acceptable for S =df It is rational for S to be more confident of P of P than of P.

(e) some presumption in favor of: There is some presumption in favor of hypothesis h for S =df It is rational for S to be more confident of h than of any competing hypothesis. (-h is not typically a competing hypothesis.)

 

2. Talbott's Addition to Chisholm's Foundations:

 

State M is a strongly self-presenting state: S is in state M S is certain s/he is in state M and it is rational for S to be certain that s/he is in state M. (cf. p. 166)

 

3. Suppose that rational agents are believe with certainty all and only what it is rational for them to be certain of; believe all and only what it is rational for them to believe; etc.

 

4. The last thing we need is to know which states are strongly self-presenting. Following Chisholm's suggestion, let us say that all apparent perceptions, apparent memories, and other conscious mental states are strongly self-presenting. (cf. 166)

 

 

B. The Route to Empirical Knowledge

 

1. Foundations:

 

(a) Perception. Evidence of beliefs about apparent perceptions: I have an apparent perception of X It is evident to me that I am having an apparent perception of X. [Apparent perception is a strongly self-presenting state.]

 

(b) Memory of Perception. Evidence of beliefs about apparent memories: I have an apparent memory of an apparent perception of X It is evident to me that I am having an apparent memory of an apparent perception of X. [Apparent memory is a strongly self-presenting state.]

 

2. The first inferential step:

 

(a) Perception. It is evident to me that I am having an apparent perception of X and I have no grounds to doubt my perception It is reasonable for me to believe I am having a veridical perception of X. (cf. 169)

 

(b) Memory. It is evident to me that I am having an apparent memory of an apparent perception of X and I have no grounds to doubt my memory It is beyond reasonable doubt for me to believe I am having a veridical memory of an apparent perception of X. (cf. (E) and (F) on p. 171)

 

3. The second inferential step:

 

(a) Memory of a perception: It is beyond reasonable doubt for me to believe I am having a veridical memory of an apparent perception of X and I have no grounds to doubt that the perception was real It is acceptable for me to believe that I am having a veridical memory of a veridical perception of X. (cf. (D) on p. 171)

 

4. Confirmation of general hypotheses

 

(a) Confirmation. Rational memory beliefs and rational perceptual beliefs can tend to confirm hypotheses. Roughly, evidence e tends to confirm an hypothesis h for S =df If e is S's total evidence, h as some presumption in its favor for S. (cf. (D4.1) p. 169)

 

(b) Let e be all the those propositions that are acceptable for S. If e tends to confirm h, then h has some presumption in its favor for S. (cf. (G) on p. 172)

 

5. Concurrence

 

(a) A is a set of concurrent propositions =df A is a set of two or more propositions each of which is such that the conjunction all the others tend to confirm it and is logically independent of it. (cf. D4.4 on p. 172)

 

(b) There is a set of concurring propositions each of which has some presumption in its favor for S Every member of the set is beyond reasonable doubt for S. (cf. (H) on p. 172)

 

6. How Perceptual Knowledge Becomes Evident

 

S believes without ground for doubt that he perceives X and the proposition X is a member of a set of concurrent propositions that are beyond reasonable doubt for S It is evident for S that he perceives X. (cf. (1) on p. 173).

 

 

C. An Example:

Suppose that I am currently perceiving a wall. Let PW = I am currently perceiving a wall. Let APW = I have an apparent perception of a wall. Let AMAPPW = I have apparent memory of a past apparent perception of a wall. Let VMAPPW = I have a veridical memory of an apparent past perception of a wall. Let VMPPW = I have veridical memory of a past perception of a (real) wall.

Because apparent perception is strongly self-presenting, APW is evident for me. Because APW is evident for me and I have no grounds to doubt my perception, it is reasonable for me to believe PW.

Suppose I have apparent memories of past apparent perceptions of walls and no grounds to doubt the apparent memories. Then AMAPPW is evident for me.

If I have no reason to doubt that I am having a veridical memory, MAPPW is beyond reasonable doubt for me and it is acceptable for me to believe VMPPW. If I have no reason to believe that my past perception was not veridical, then VMPPW is acceptable for me (i.e., it is ACCEPTABLE for me to believe that PW was true on various occasions in the past).

The total evidence of my acceptable present and past perceptual beliefs, tends to confirm many hypotheses about wallsfor example, that they support ceilings, that when they are colored they prevent me from seeing what is on the other side of them; etc. These hypotheses have some presumption in their favor for me.

Consider a concurrent set of propositions of these kinds. Because they all have some presumption in their favor and they are concurrent, they are all beyond reasonable doubt for me. Because they include the belief that PW, PW is evident for me.