Essay #2: Scales of Epistemic Appraisal [chapter]

Kenneth G. Lucey
2014 Pesky Essays on the Logic of Philosophy  
This essay is a discussion of Roderick M. Chisholm's system of a scale of distinct levels of evidential appraisal. In a series of articles over two decades Chisholm developed and continually refined a conceptual scheme and an axiomatic system embodying a system of levels of evidential appraisal. My essay begins with a discussion of how criminal and civil courtroom situations require different levels of appraisal in reaching their verdicts. The scale that Chisholm develops has nine distinct
more » ... s of appraisal, with the top four levels representing positive appraisals of a proposition p, and the bottom three representing negative appraisals of the denial of the proposition p. At the middle of this scale is the appraisal "counterbalanced", which represents the situation in which neither p nor not-p is appraised more than the other. The specific scale that this essay explores is as follows: certain, evident, reasonable, has some presumption, counter-balanced, has no presumption, unreasonable, and gratuitous. This essay has a double purpose. In the first instance it is an introduction to Chisholm's system of epistemic appraisal and a summary of a number of the key features of it. An appendix to the essay summarizes Chisholm's key definitions and derives three of his most important theorems. The essay also has a second and more critical purpose, which is to offer a characterization of Chisholm's system, and then to develop a conceptual alternative to it. The key issue here is how a positive appraisal of a proposition p should relate to the negative appraisal of the proposition not-p. The essay characterizes Chisholm's system as a "straight steps" system, and it offers by contrast the conception of a "mirrored steps" system. It is argued that there are counter-intuitive consequences to the Chisholmian straight-steps system. A distinct critical issue is whether Chisholm's hierarchy contains a serious ambiguity in the appraisal levels below the counter-balanced. People are often surprised to learn that different courtroom situations require that juries use different levels of appraisal in reaching their verdicts. In a civil case (tort law) a jury has only to conclude that there is some presumption if favor of one litigant's case in reaching a verdict. In a criminal case, a jury is required to hold that
doi:10.1007/978-3-319-08063-5_2 fatcat:xhgzivasondpfaegelundmyxna