Toward an epistemology of certain substantive a priori truths

Metaphilosophy 40 (2):214-236 (2009)
Abstract: This article explains and motivates an account of one way in which we might have substantive a priori knowledge in one important class of domains: domains in which the central concepts are response-dependent. The central example will be our knowledge of the connection between something's being harmful and the fact that it is irrational for us to fail to be averse to that thing. The idea is that although the relevant responses (basic aversion in the case of harm, and a kind of interpretive failure in the case of irrationality) are produced by independent psychological mechanisms, they have distal causes that turn out to be related in ways that—once language enters the picture—yield epistemically accessible necessary connections between the referents of their corresponding terms.
Keywords response‐dependence  reference  a priori  harm  rationality
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9973.2009.01575.x
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Thomas Scanlon (1998). What We Owe to Each Other. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

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