The modal argument for a priori justification

Ratio 22 (2):191-205 (2009)
Abstract
Kant famously argued that, from experience, we can only learn how something actually is, but not that it must be so. In this paper, I defend an improved version of Kant's argument for the existence of a priori knowledge, the Modal Argument , against recent objections by Casullo and Kitcher. For the sake of the argument, I concede Casullo's claim that we may know certain counterfactuals in an empirical way and thereby gain epistemic access to some nearby, nomologically possible worlds. But I maintain that our beliefs about metaphysical necessities still cannot be justified empirically. Furthermore, I reject Casullo's deflationary thesis about the significance of such justification. Kitcher's most troublesome objection is that we can gain any modal justification whatsoever through testimony , i.e. in an experiential way. This can be countered by distinguishing between productive sources of justification, like perception, and merely reproductive sources, like testimony. Thus, some productive a priori source will always be needed somewhere.
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References found in this work BETA
Gordon Prescott Barnes (2007). Necessity and Apriority. Philosophical Studies 132 (3):495 - 523.
Tyler Burge (1993). Content Preservation. Philosophical Review 102 (4):457-488.
Elizabeth Fricker & David E. Cooper (1987). The Epistemology of Testimony. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 61:57 - 106.

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