A theory of the a priori

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (1):1–30 (2000)
The topic of a priori knowledge is approached through the theory of evidence. A shortcoming in traditional formulations of moderate rationalism and moderate empiricism is that they fail to explain why rational intuition and phenomenal experience count as basic sources of evidence. This explanatory gap is filled by modal reliabilism -- the theory that there is a qualified modal tie between basic sources of evidence and the truth. This tie to the truth is then explained by the theory of concept possession: this tie is a consequence of what, by definition, it is to possess (i.e., to understand) one’s concepts. A corollary of the overall account is that the a priori disciplines (logic, mathematics, philosophy) can be largely autonomous from the empirical sciences.
Keywords Epistemology of Intuition
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DOI 10.1111/0029-4624.33.s13.2
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Cross-posted from http://mleseminar.wordpress.com/


George Bealer - A theory of the a priori

For the first meeting of Trinity, we discussed George Bealer’s 'A theory of the a priori'. The paper is available here, and the handout is here.

Alex lists some objections to Bealer’s view at the end of the handout, all of which we agreed with. Taken together, they seem to significantly undermine the interest of the theory presented in the paper. But here are a few more problems we raised in discussion:

The anti-Quinean argument seemed unconvincing. It doesn’t have any force against Quineans who either a) reject the normative force of a demand for justification of their epistemological theory or b) think that ‘justification’ and allied concepts will appear in well-developed theories of psychology and sociology. Since I guess that all contemporary Quineans will take one or other of these options, I don’t think Bealer’s argument will worry anyone.

I worried that there was an uncomfortable methodolog ... (read more)