What Is a Priori and What Is It Good For?

Southern Journal of Philosophy 38 (S1):51-86 (2000)
The doctrine is familiar. In a sentence, a priori truths are those that are knowable on the basis of reflection alone (independent of experience) by anyone who has acquired the relevant concepts. This expresses the classical conception of the a priori. Of course, there are those who despair of finding any truths that fully meet these demands. Some of the doubters are convinced, however, that the demands, are somewhat inflated by an epistemological tradition that was nevertheless on to something of importance. These thinkers would then seek to reconceive the a priori somewhat--accommodating some of the classical demands within a "retentive analysis." Ultimately, we will urge a place for both the classical conception and a complementary revisionary but retentive conception as well.
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