I've been studying the problem of the criterion for about a month, and I'm finding that there is a paradox involved with knowing it. Supposedly, as I interpret, in order to know what the problem of the criterion is, I need a standard to use with which to know that something is true in order to assess whether or not some interpretation of mine is "true" (or "accurate") as to what the problem of the criterion is. However, in order to have said standard, the said standard must be grounded in a resolve to the problem of the criterion, for which I have read there is no resolve (there are presumed solutions, such as methodism or particularism, but those are not resolves).

So, I'm under the impression that the best that I can do is engage in some kind of sophisticated parroting if but to give the impression that I understand the problem of the criterion. I relate this matter to John Searle's argument in his article "Minds, brains, and programs," whereby it appears to me that no one (such as John Searle) understands anything, such as English, but engages in various forms of symbol manipulation that might give the impression that an individual is an intelligent being. For what I have read from (1), Harnad's symbol grounding problem is a generalization of the problem of the criterion.

I have chatted with ChatGPT about the problem of the criterion and its definition.

Today, I asked ChatGPT if it thought the following is a proper interpretation of what the problem of the criterion is:

the problem of the criterion is the problem of establishing a standard to use with which to know that something is true.

As an excerpt of its response, it stated the following:

Yes, your interpretation accurately captures the essence of the Problem of the Criterion.

Well, it seems so. I'm not absolutely sure. I feel as though I have figured out how to intelligently state a paraphrasing of what it is. But whether or not my paraphrasing is intelligible is debatable.

I'd really appreciate it if someone here could find a way to state what the problem of the criterion is in one sentence if but succinctly as possible.

I have been dissatisfied with people splitting the problem of the criterion into being the problem of resolving two particular questions relative to the problem of the criterion without ever stating that such is the problem.

What is a succinct description of the problem of the criterion?


(1) https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Xs7ag4gsiA6zspmsD/the-problem-of-the-criterion

  • See the problem of the criterion: What is the criterion for deciding whether we have knowledge in any particular case? Jun 13, 2023 at 12:25
  • If you do not know how to evaluate if a statement is a reasonable candidate as answer to a question, why you asked to ChatGPT? why ask it here? Jun 13, 2023 at 12:50
  • 3
    Having said that, fundamental issues, like e.g. what is knowledge, what is reality, etc do not have "ultimate" answer but only some sort of elucidation: this is IMO the main role of philosophy. Jun 13, 2023 at 12:52
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA I am testing my presumed understanding of the problem of the criterion. Jun 13, 2023 at 12:52
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    All I havta say at the moment is The Problem of The Criterion involves questions. Try reframing it that way; plus, what is a criterion anyway?
    – Hudjefa
    Jun 13, 2023 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


Suppose that definitions are knowable, i.e., "X is defined as x," is a kind of statement that can be known to be true. Then go to, "Knowledge is defined as k," and ask whether you can know that definition to be true. But how can you know that k is what knowledge is on some other basis? (C.f. John Cook Wilson's "knowledge first" stance.)

One can also take the criterion problem for the Meno problem:

Socrates appears to be committed to the principle that if one does not know what the F is, then one cannot know if F is truly predicable of anything whatever, in which case it seems pointless to try to discover what the F is by investigating examples of it via the elenctic method. ... If Socratic definition anticipates conceptual analysis, then the paradox that is formulated in this dialogue—Meno’s paradox—anticipates the paradox of analysis. Either we know what something is, or we do not. If we do, then there is no point searching for it. If we do not, then we will not know what to search for.

  • 1
    Famous quote: "I know it when I see it."
    – Scott Rowe
    Jun 14, 2023 at 10:46

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