'Creationism' and the contingent a priori

Ratio 23 (2):168-183 (2010)
Abstract
Williamson (1986) presents a troublesome example of the contingent a priori ; troublesome, because it does not involve indexicals, and hence cannot be defused via the usual two-dimensional strategies. Here I explore how the example works, via an examination of crucial belief-forming method M, partly in response to Hawthorne (2002) and the questions there raised for 'hyperreliable' belief-forming methods. I suggest that, when used to form a belief, M does its special work through creating a verifying state of affairs which guarantees the truth of the belief thus formed. This creative link can be said to account for the knowledge-conferring status of M. But it also provides us with a way to defuse the purported example of the contingent a priori . The knowledge at issue is only a priori in virtue of this creative link, an importantly different epistemic achievement from standard cases of a priori knowledge. One important moral to be drawn is that the a priori / a posteriori distinction does not appear to be slicing the epistemological beast at its joints.
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