Boghossian (1996) has put forward an interesting explanation of how we can acquire logical knowledge via implicit definitions that makes use of a special template. Ebert (2005) has argued that the template is unserviceable, as it doesn't transmit warrant. In this paper, we defend the template. We first suggest that Jenkins (2008)’s response to Ebert fails because it focuses on doxastic rather than propositional warrant. We then reject Ebert’s objection by showing that it depends on an implausible and incoherent assumption.
How should we understand good philosophical inquiry? Ernest Sosa has argued that the key to answering this question lies with virtue-based epistemology. According to virtue-based epistemology, competences are prior to epistemic justification. More precisely, a subject is justified in having some type of belief only because she could have a belief of that type by exercising her competences. Virtue epistemology is well positioned to explain why, in forming false philosophical beliefs, agents are often less rational than it is possible to (...) be. False philosophical beliefs are often unjustified—and the agent is thereby less rational for having them—precisely because these beliefs could not be formed by exercising competences. But, virtue epistemology is not well positioned to explain why, in failing to form some true philosophical beliefs, agents are less rational than it is possible to be. In cases where agents fall short by failing to believe philosophical truths, the problem is not that they believe things they shouldn’t, but that they lack beliefs they ought to have. We argue that Timothy Williamson's recent critique of the a priori/a posteriori distinction falls prey to similar problem cases. Williamson fails to see that a type of belief might be a priori justified if and only if, even without any special confirming experiences, agents fall short by failing to have this type of belief. We conclude that there are types of beliefs that are deeply a priori justified for any agent regardless of what epistemic competences the agent has. However, we also point out that this view has a problem of its own: it appears to make the acquisition of a priori knowledge too easy. We end by suggesting that a move back towards virtue-based epistemology is necessary. But in order for this move to be effective, epistemic competences will have to be understood very differently than in the reliabilist tradition. (shrink)
In recent years, several philosophers have argued that the a priori/a posteriori distinction is a legitimate distinction but does not carve at the epistemological joints and is theoretically unimportant. In this paper, I do two main things. First, I respond to the most prominent recent challenge to the significance of the a priori/a posteriori distinction – the central argument in Williamson (2013). Second, I discuss the question of what the theoretical significance of the a priori/a posteriori distinction is. -/- I (...) first present the a priori/a posteriori distinction as it is typically developed. I then turn to Williamson’s challenge to the significance of the distinction. Williamson points out that we often use the same cognitive mechanisms in coming to have a priori and a posteriori knowledge. So how could it be, asks Williamson, that there is a “deep epistemological difference” between the two? In response to this challenge, I argue that there is an important disanalogy between Williamson’s central example of a case of a priori knowledge and his central example of a case of a posteriori knowledge. Although the beliefs in the two cases are formed in similar ways, the ways in which their justification can be defeated are different. This suggests that there is an important epistemological difference between the two cases, one that cannot be captured in terms of the cognitive mechanisms used to form the beliefs. -/- Although Williamson’s argument is unsuccessful, there remains the question of just what the theoretical significance of the a priori/a posteriori distinction is. I argue that the point of the distinction is not to enable us to represent some joint in nature, but rather to help us to identify epistemological problem cases. We understand – more-or-less – the epistemology of simple perceptual knowledge. The epistemology of non-perceptual knowledge is far less clear. The purpose of labeling a case of knowledge as a priori is to claim that its epistemology should not be assimilated to the epistemology of perception. Instead, it is something of a puzzle case. -/- This proposal has an important implication. There are several ways in which a case of knowledge can be different from a simple case of perceptual knowledge. Two differences are perhaps the most important: (i) the justification of the belief does not involve phenomenality, and (ii) the belief does not stand in a causal relation to what the belief is about. When beliefs about some subject matter fit either (i) or (ii), an epistemological puzzle arises. So there is more than one kind of epistemological puzzle to solve. This suggests that there is an important theoretical role for (at least) two distinctions in the ballpark of the traditional a priori/a posteriori distinction. (shrink)
Intuition-based accounts of the a priori are criticised for appealing to a “mysterious” faculty of rational intuition to explain how a priori knowledge is possible. Analyticity-based accounts are typically motivated by opposition to them, offering a purportedly “non-mysterious” account of the a priori. In this paper, I argue that analyticity-based accounts are in no better position to explain the a priori than intuition-based accounts, and that we have good reason to doubt the explanation they offer. To do this, I focus (...) on recent analyticity-based accounts of the a priori, which appeal to understanding alone to explain the a priori. First, I argue that the appeal to understanding as the source of the a priori is no less mysterious than the appeal to rational intuition. Second, I argue that analyticity-based accounts of the a priori do not provide an alternative to intuition-based accounts as the fundamental explanation they offer of the a priori is one that could equally be endorsed by a friend of rational intuition—and that they fail for reasons that do not undermine intuition-based accounts. (shrink)
The distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori is an old and influential one. But both the distinction itself and the crucial notion of a priori knowledge face powerful philosophical challenges. Many philosophers worry that accepting the a priori is tantamount to accepting epistemic magic. In contrast, this Element argues that the a priori can be formulated clearly, made respectable, and used to do important epistemological work. The author's conception of the a priori and its role falls short (...) of what some historical proponents of the notion may have hoped for, but it allows us to accept and use the notion without abandoning either naturalism or empiricism, broadly understood. This Element argues that we can accept and use the a priori without magic. (shrink)
What is the role of imagination in a priori knowledge? Here I provide a partial answer, arguing that imagination can be used to shed light on which experiences merely enable knowledge, versus which are evidential. I reach this partial answer by considering in detail Timothy’s Williamson’s recent argument that the a priori/a posteriori distinction is insignificant. There are replies to the argument by Boghossian and Casullo that might work on their own terms, but my reply examines the assumptions that Williamson (...) makes about the role of imagination in knowledge generation. I show that Williamson’s argument does not account for important distinctions from recent discussions of imaginative content. When these distinctions are not ignored, we can see that Williamson’s argument attributes a subject knowledge on the basis of a faulty application of universal generalization. I close by connecting my positive account of the role of imagination in the a priori to a debate about the role of memory in the a priori that played out 25 years ago. (shrink)
The preferential option for the poor is a concept and set of ideas in Catholic social teaching that is highly relevant to bioethics scholarship and practice. The option for the poor is mentioned frequently in the bioethics literature but with little specification of its history and implications for ethical and theological analysis. This article examines the origins and implications of the preferential option; compares it to critical race theory, which dominates current debates about discrimination and oppression; and proposes a set (...) of principles for further application in bioethical scholarship and discussion. (shrink)
This paper argues there are crucial points in Nietzsche’s texts where he offers a priori epistemic justification for views he believes are correct. My reading contrasts with the dominant view that Nietzsche’s philosophical naturalism is incompatible with a priori justification. My aim is to develop Nietzsche’s brand of a priori justification, show that he employs this account of justification in the texts, and suggest how it might be compatible with naturalism.
Recent work in the history of philosophy of science details the Kantianism of philosophers often thought opposed to one another, e.g., Hans Reichenbach, C.I. Lewis, Rudolf Carnap, and Thomas Kuhn. Historians of philosophy of science in the last two decades have been particularly interested in the Kantianism of Reichenbach, Carnap, and Kuhn, and more recently, of Lewis. While recent historical work focuses on recovering the threatened-to-be-forgotten Kantian themes of early twentieth-century philosophy of science, we should not elide the differences between (...) the Kantian strands running throughout this work. In this paper, I disentangle a few of these strands in the work of Reichenbach and Lewis focusing especially on their theories of relativized, constitutive a priori principles in empirical knowledge. In particular, I highlight three related differences between Reichenbach and Lewis concerning their motivations in analyzing scientific knowledge and scientific practice, their differing conceptions of constitutivity, and their relativization of constitutive a priori principles. In light of these differences, I argue Lewis’s Kantianism is more similar to Kuhn’s Kantianism than Reichenbach’s, and so might be of more contemporary relevance to social and practice-based approaches to the philosophy of science. (shrink)
There is a line of thought, neglected in recent philosophy, according to which a priori knowable truths such as those of logic and mathematics have their special epistemic status in virtue of a certain tight connection between their meaning and their truth. Historical associations notwithstanding, this view does not mandate any kind of problematic deflationism about meaning, modality or essence. On the contrary, we should be upfront about it being a highly debatable metaphysical idea, while nonetheless insisting that it be (...) given due consideration. From this standpoint, I suggest that the Finean distinction between essence and modality allows us to refine the view. While liberal about meaning, modality and essence, the view is not without bite: it is reasonable to suppose that it is able to ward off philosophical confusions stemming from the undue assimilation of a priori to empirical knowledge. (shrink)
The new rationalists – BonJour and Bealer – have characterized one type of a priori justification as based on intellectual intuitions or seemings. I argue that they are mistaken in thinking that intellectual intuitions can provide a priori justification. Suppose that the proposition that a surface cannot be red and green all over strikes you as true. When you carefully consider it, you couldn't but realize that no surface could be both red and green all over. Ascertaining the truth of (...) what you believe (when you believe that a surface cannot be red and green all over) requires conscious experiences of thinking. The character of such experiences (propositions’ striking you as true, and the sense of incoherence you would experience were they to be false) is what justifies your belief. It should follow that the justification for such propositions (and your believing them) is a posteriori, i.e., based on conscious experience. Your cognitive phenomenology plays a constitutive role in justifying your belief. Hence your belief is not a priori justified, contra the new rationalists. (shrink)
Williamson and others have recently argued against the significance of the a priori/a posteriori distinction. My aim in this paper is to explain, defend, and expand upon one of these arguments. In the first section, I develop in some detail a line of argument sketched in Williamson. In the second section, I consider two replies to Williamson and show that they miss the structure of the challenge, as I understand it. The problem for defenders of the distinction is to find (...) a way to draw it without leaving out some paradigmatic a priori knowledge or including some paradigmatic a posteriori knowledge. Interestingly, the two replies fail in opposite directions. I then consider the view that, in cases of a priori knowledge, one needs only understanding and some reasoning to gain justified belief. Such reasoning, I argue, should itself not be dependent on experience. Next, I consider, and reject, the attempt to spell out independence of experience for reasoning based on a link between the modal and epistemic status of the proposition involved. Finally, I provide some general grounds to think that the role of experience in forming a reasoning competence, while not evidential, is not devoid of normative value. The main reason is that the normative status of intellectual competences depends on the experiences that constitute their acquisition and development. (shrink)
This article discusses the role of a priori and a posteriori knowledge and methods in metaphysics and metametaphysics. Issues discussed include the viability of the distinction, the continuity of a priori and a posteriori methods, connections to modal epistemology, and the role of the distinction for science and naturalistic metaphysics.
Truth by convention, once thought to be the foundation of a uniquely promising approach to explaining our access to the truth in nonempirical domains, is nowadays widely considered an absurdity. Its fall from grace has been due largely to the influence of an argument that can be sketched as follows: our linguistic conventions have the power to make it the case that a sentence expresses a particular proposition, but they can’t by themselves generate truth; whether a given proposition is true—and (...) so whether the sentence that expresses it is true—is a matter of what the world is like, which means it isn’t a matter of convention alone. The consensus is that this argument is decisive against truth by convention. Strikingly, though, it has rarely been formulated with much precision. Here I provide a new rendering of the argument, one that reveals its structure and makes transparent just what assumptions it requires, and then I assess conventionalists’ prospects for resisting each of those assumptions. I conclude that the consensus is mistaken: contrary to what is almost universally thought, there remains a promising way forward for the conventionalist project. Along the way, I clarify conventionalists’ commitments by thinking about what truth by convention would need to be like in order for conventionalism to do the epistemological work it’s intended to do. (shrink)
We consider a natural-language sentence that cannot be formally represented in a first-order language for epistemic two-dimensional semantics. We also prove this claim in the “Appendix” section. It turns out, however, that the most natural ways to repair the expressive inadequacy of the first-order language render moot the original philosophical motivation of formalizing a priori knowability as necessity along the diagonal.
Within his overarching program aiming to defend an epistemic conception of analyticity, Boghossian (1996 and 1997) has offered a clear-cut explanation of how we can acquire a priori knowledge of logical truths and logical rules through implicit definition. The explanation is based on a special template or general form of argument. Ebert (2005) has argued that an enhanced version of this template is flawed because a segment of it is unable to transmit warrant from its premises to the conclusion. This (...) article aims to defend the template from this objection. We provide an accurate description of the type of non-transmissivity that Ebert attributes to the template and clarify why this is a novel type of non-transmissivity. Then, we argue that Jenkins (2008)’s response to Ebert fails because it focuses on doxastic rather than propositional warrant. Finally, we rebut Ebert’s objection on Boghossian’s behalf by showing that it rests on an unwarranted assumption and is internally incoherent. (shrink)
I argue that Quinean naturalists’ holism-based arguments against analyticity and apriority are more difficult to resist than is generally supposed, for two reasons. First, although opponents of naturalism sometimes dismiss these arguments on the grounds that the holistic premises on which they depend are unacceptably radical, it turns out that the sort of holism required by these arguments is actually quite minimal. And second, although it’s true, as Grice and Strawson pointed out long ago, that these arguments can succeed only (...) if there isn’t any principled criterion for meaning change, such a criterion turns out to be hard to come by. David Chalmers has recently argued that such a criterion must exist, since the norms governing belief revision are subject to obvious exceptions that can be explained only by appeal to meaning change. But this, I argue, is incorrect: if choices about how to use language are themselves rationally assessable, then there are no such exceptions to be explained. To show that this is so, I formulate a new kind of coherence norm that may be useful for reasoning formally about the relationship between meaning and evidence. (shrink)
In the history of epistemology, discussions of the a priori have been bound up with discussions of necessity and analyticity, often in confusing ways. Disentangling these confusions is an essential step in the study of the a priori. This will be the aim of my introductory remarks. The goal of the remainder of the paper will then be to try to develop a unified account of the a priori, dealing with the notions of intuition and a priori evidence, the question (...) of why intuitions qualify as evidence, and the question of how they can be a reliable guide to the truth about a priori matters. (shrink)
Here we challenge the orthodoxy according to which abduction is an a posteriori mode of inference. We start by providing a case study illustrating how abduction can justify a philosophical claim not justifiable by empirical evidence alone. While many grant abduction's epistemic value, nearly all assume that abductive justification is a posteriori, on grounds that our belief in abduction's epistemic value depends on empirical evidence about how the world contingently is. Contra this assumption, we argue, first, that our belief in (...) abduction’s epistemic value is not and could not be justified a posteriori, and second, that attention to the roles experience plays in abductive justification supports taking abduction to be an a priori mode of inference. We close by highlighting how our strategy for establishing the a priority of abduction positively contrasts with strategies in Bonjour (1998), Swinburne (2001), and Peacocke (2004) aiming to establish the a priority of certain ampliative modes of inference or abductive principles. (shrink)
The purpose of this book is to address the controversial issues of whether we have a fixed set of ontological categories and if they have some epistemic value at all. Which are our ontological categories? What determines them? Do they play a role in cognition? If so, which? What do they force to presuppose regarding our world-view? If they constitute a limit to possible knowledge, up to what point is science possible? Does their study make of philosophy a science? Departing (...) from the novelty –but no exclusively- of considering distinctions to be the subject matter of thought and language -that is, of reference and meaning- the author arrives at a radical novel conception of the ontological categories. The observations and arguments presented in it constitute a strong case against established and well-rooted tenets, if not paradigms, of contemporary philosophy, beyond ontology and epistemology. The entailing conclusions, open the door to a revival of the discipline and the importance of its studies, as the science of the constitutive elements of knowledge of a non-empirical nature. (shrink)
This entry addresses the nature and epistemological role of intuition by considering the following questions: (1) What are intuitions?, (2) What roles do they serve in philosophical (and other “armchair”) inquiry?, (3) Ought they serve such roles?, (4) What are the implications of the empirical investigation of intuitions for their proper roles?, and (5) What is the content of intuitions prompted by the consideration of hypothetical cases?
In Constructing the World, Chalmers observes that our knowledge exceeds the core evidence provided by our senses and introspection. Thus, on the basis of core evidence, one also can know (S) that water covers the majority of the Earth. This knowledge, Chalmers suggests, requires a great deal of apriori knowledge. Chalmers argues that even if one suspends belief in one’s core evidence, one can nevertheless reason from a description of this evidence to an ordinary claim such as S. Chalmers concludes (...) that the ordinary claim must be apriori entailed by a description of the core evidence. However, I propose that careful thinking about belief suspension reveals that empirical information can contaminate the reasoning from the core evidence to the ordinary claim S, even if belief in the core evidence is suspended. One result is that empiricists and externalists may freely appeal to thought experiments without having to concede that there are substantive apriori truths. (shrink)
In his book Intuition, Elijah Chudnoff develops an account of how we might, by having intuitions, be made aware of abstract objects. While the conditions under which we enjoy such awareness are, on his account, happily free of objectionable metaphysics or dubious mechanisms, it is not clear that the conditions bear the epistemic weight they need to carry. To flesh out this worry, I develop an example that is parallel in all relevant respects to cases of intuitive awareness as described (...) by Chudnoff but in which the subject lacks awareness. This paper is a descendant of remarks delivered at the 2014 conference of the Florida Philosophical Association during a book symposium on Elijah Chudnoff’s Intuition. (shrink)
During the past decade a new twist in the debate regarding the a priori has unfolded. A number of prominent epistemologists have challenged the coherence or importance of the a priori—a posteriori distinction or, alternatively, of the concept of a priori knowledge. My focus in this paper is on these new challenges to the a priori. My goals are to provide a framework for organizing the challenges, articulate and assess a range of the challenges, and present two challenges of my (...) own. (shrink)
Contemporary epistemologists typically define a priori justification as justification that is independent of sense experience. However, sense experience plays at least some role in the production of many paradigm cases of a priori justified belief. This raises the question of when experience is epistemically relevant to the justificatory status of the belief that is based on it. In this paper, I will outline the answers that can be given by the two currently dominant accounts of justification, i.e. evidentialism and reliabilism. (...) While for the evidentialist, experience is epistemically relevant only if it is used as evidence, the reliabilist requires that the reliability of the relevant process depends on the reliability of experiential processes. I will argue that the reliabilist account accommodates our pre-theoretic classifications much better. In the final part of my paper I will use the reliabilist criterion to defend the a priori—a posteriori distinction against recent challenges by Hawthorne and Williamson. (shrink)
Robert Hanna works out a unified contemporary Kantian theory of rational human cognition and knowledge. Along the way, he provides accounts of intentionality and its contents, sense perception and perceptual knowledge, the analytic-synthetic distinction, the nature of logic, and a priori truth and knowledge in mathematics, logic, and philosophy. This book is specifically intended to reach out to two very different audiences: contemporary analytic philosophers of mind and knowledge, and contemporary Kantian philosophers or Kant-scholars. At the same time, it rides (...) the crest of a wave of exciting and revolutionary emerging new trends and new work in the philosophy of mind and epistemology, with a special concentration on the philosophy of perception. What is revolutionary in this new wave are its strong emphases on action, on cognitive phenomenology, on disjunctivist direct realism, on embodiment, and on sense perception as a primitive and proto-rational capacity for cognizing the world. Hanna makes a fundamental contribution to this philosophical revolution by giving it a specifically contemporary Kantian twist, and by pushing these new lines of investigation radically further. (shrink)
I give a brief overview of Albert Casullo’s Essays on A Priori Knowledge and Justification (2012), followed by a summary of his diagnostic framework for evaluating accounts of a priori knowledge and a priori justification. I then discuss Casullo’s strategy for countering deficiency arguments against empiricism. A deficiency argument against empiricism can be countered by mounting a parallel argument against moderate rationalism that shows moderate rationalism to be defective in a similar way. I argue that a particular deficiency argument put (...) forth by George Bealer in “The Incoherence of Empiricism” (1992) can withstand a parallel challenge mounted by Casullo (2012, Ch.6). -/- I then consider Casullo’s preferred analysis of the concept of a priori justification, which identifies a belief’s being justified by some nonexperiential source as the feature by virtue of which it is justified a priori. On the analysis, an apriori-justfied belief that is justified to a degree that is sufficient for knowledge is not taken to be empirically indefeasible. I argue that Casullo could avail himself of an empirical indefeasibility requirement that is consistent with his minimal and fallibilist conception of a priori knowledge. Doing so would capture a feature of the concept of a priori knowledge that is of particular interest and significance. (shrink)
This paper offers an account of the a priori. According to this account, the fundamental notion is not that of a priori knowledge, or even of a priori justified belief, but a notion of an a priori justified inferential disposition. The rationality or justification of such a priori justified inferential dispositions is explained purely by some of the basic cognitive capacities that the thinker possesses, independently of any further experiences or other conscious mental states that the thinker happens to have (...) had. It is then shown how a priori justified inferences and beliefs can be explained on the basis of such a priori justified inferential dispositions. (shrink)
This collection focuses on the ontology of space and time. It is centred on the idea that the issues typically encountered in this area must be tackled from a multifarious perspective, paying attention to both a priori and a posteriori considerations. Several experts in this area contribute to this volume: G. Landini discusses how Russell’s conception of time features in his general philosophical perspective;D. Dieks proposes a middle course between substantivalist and relationist accounts of space-time;P. Graziani argues that it is (...) necessary to provide an account of the “synthetic procedures” implicit in the recourse to diagrams in Euclid’s Elements, while E. Mares comes to the conclusion that in Euclid’s Elements we should treat the parallel postulate as empirical and the postulate that space is continuous as a priori. M. Arsenijevi?/M. Adži? present an important formal result concerning two theories of the infinite two-dimensional continua, which sheds new light on the current dispute between gunkologists and pointilists; F. Orilia discusses two problems for presentism, one regarding the duration of the present and the other related to Zeno’s paradoxes. A. Iacona delves deep into logical matters by focusing on the so-called T×W modal frames in order to deal with the deteterminism-indeterminism controversy. D. Mancuso outlines a non-standard temporal model compatible with time travel, andV. Fano/G. Macchia discuss time travels in the light of an important foundational principle of modern cosmology, Weyl’s Principle. (shrink)
One of the more visible recent developments in philosophical methodology is the experimental philosophy movement. On its surface, the experimentalist challenge looks like a dramatic threat to the apriority of philosophy; ‘experimentalist’ is nearly antonymic with ‘aprioristic’. This appearance, I suggest, is misleading; the experimentalist critique is entirely unrelated to questions about the apriority of philosophical investigation. There are many reasons to resist the skeptical conclusions of negative experimental philosophers; but even if they are granted—even if the experimentalists are right (...) to claim that we must do much more careful laboratory work in order legitimately to be confident in our philosophical judgments— the apriority of philosophy is unimpugned. The kinds of scientific investigation that experimental philosophers argue to be necessary involve merely enabling sensory experiences. Although they are not enabling in the sense of permitting concept acquisition, they are enabling in another epistemically significant way that is also consistent with the apriority of philosophy. (shrink)
Moderate rationalism is the view a person's having a rational intuition that p prima facie justifies them in believing that p. It has recently been argued that moderate rationalism requires empirical support and, furthermore, that suitable empirical support would suffice to convince empiricists to abandon their opposition to rationalism. According to one argument, the causal requirement argument, empirical evidence is necessary in order to justify the claim that any actual token belief is based on rational intuition and moderate rationalism requires (...) such a claim for its justification. According to a second argument, the reliability argument, empirical evidence is necessary in order to justify the claim that a putative source of evidence is reliable and moderate rationalism requires such a claim for its justification. According to a third argument, the empirical case argument, certain sorts of empirical evidence would be dialectically sufficient to resolve the traditional dispute between empiricists and rationalists in the rationalists' favor. Against the causal requirement argument, I maintain that the core doctrines of moderate rationalism are not hostage to causal claims and that such causal claims as may be plausibly part of other recognizably rationalist doctrines can be justified on broadly non-empirical grounds. Against the reliability argument, I show that no empirical evidence is required to justify belief in the reliability of rational intuition. Against the empirical case argument, I argue that the envisioned empirical support for moderate rationalism should not convince any traditional empiricist. (shrink)
In this paper I will argue that (principled) attempts to ground a priori knowledge in default reasonable beliefs cannot capture certain common intuitions about what is required for a priori knowledge. I will describe hypothetical creatures who derive complex mathematical truths like Fermat’s last theorem via short and intuitively unconvincing arguments. Many philosophers with foundationalist inclinations will feel that these creatures must lack knowledge because they are unable to justify their mathematical assumptions in terms of the kind of basic facts (...) which can be known without further argument. Yet, I will argue that nothing in the current literature lets us draw a principled distinction between what these creatures are doing and paradigmatic cases of good a priori reasoning (assuming that the latter are to be grounded in default reasonable beliefs). I will consider, in turn, appeals to reliability, coherence, conceptual truth and indispensability and argue that none of these can do the job. (shrink)
The paper argues that, although a distinction between a priori and a posteriori knowledge (or justification) can be drawn, it is a superficial one, of little theoretical significance. The point is not that the distinction has borderline cases, for virtually all useful distinctions have such cases. Rather, it is argued by means of an example, the differences even between a clear case of a priori knowledge and a clear case of a posteriori knowledge may be superficial ones. In both cases, (...) experience plays a role that is more than purely enabling but less than strictly evidential. It is also argued that the cases at issue are not special, but typical of a wide range of others, including knowledge of axioms of set theory and of elementary logical truths. Attempts by Quine and others to make all knowledge a posteriori (‘empirical’) are repudiated. The paper ends with a call for a new framework to be developed for analysing the epistemology of cognitive uses of the imagination. (shrink)
I exist. That is something I know. Most philosophers think that Descartes was right that each of us knows that we exist. Furthermore most philosophers agree with Descartes that there is something special about how we know it. Agreement ends there. There is little agreement about exactly what is special about this knowledge. I shall present an account that is in some respects Cartesian in spirit, although I shall not pursue interpretive questions very far. On this account, I know that (...) I exist a priori; and I shall advance an explanation of how this a priori knowledge is possible and actual. I then consider the question of whether the belief that I exist is justified and, if so, how. I argue that the situation is different in important ways from the knowledge that I exist. (shrink)
The distinction between a priori knowledge and a posteriori knowledge has come under attack in the recent literature by Philip Kitcher, John Hawthorne, C. S. Jenkins, and Timothy Williamson. Evaluating the attacks requires answering two questions. First, have they hit their target? Second, are they compelling? My goal is to argue that the attacks fail because they miss their target. Since the attacks are directed at a particular concept or distinction, they must accurately locate the target concept or distinction. Accurately (...) locating the target concept or distinction requires correctly articulating that concept or distinction. The attacks miss their target because they fail to correctly articulate the target concept or distinction. I go on to present a different challenge to the a priori-a posteriori distinction. This challenge is not directed at the coherence or significance of the distinction. Its target is the traditional view that all knowledge (or justified belief) is either a priori or a posteriori. (shrink)
The past twenty-five years have seen a major renewal of interest in the topic of a priori knowledge. In the sixteen essays collected here, which span this entire period, philosopher Albert Casullo documents the complex set of issues motivating the renewed interest, identifies the central epistemological questions, and provides the leading ideas of a unified response to them.
According to the scientific ideal of modernity, the propositions of science are considered fundamentally fallible. On the other hand, science strives for objective knowledge. Kant saw in the apriori the precondition for objective knowledge. But with the new conception of science the apriori (if it is not to be only logic) has become problematic. With it, however, the objectivity of scientific knowledge is at stake. As long as one grants objectivity to scientific knowledge, the question of the apriori remains topical. (...) On the one hand, this volume wants to trace the historical roots as well as the different interpretations of the apriori, and on the other hand, it wants to ask for approaches for a contemporary reinterpretation of this basic concept. (shrink)
This paper outlines a default and challenge account of a priori warrant by unfolding the three stages of the epistemic dialectic in which such warrant comes to the fore. Among the virtues of this account is that it does not rely on controversial assumptions regarding non-experiential sources of warrant, like intellectual intuition, but instead relies on features of our epistemic practice, more precisely, its default and challenge structure. What distinguishes beliefs to which you are warranted a priori is not that (...) their source of warrant resides in some intellectual faculty, but rather the characteristic ways in which these beliefs can be successfully defended against challenges. The paper ends in a discussion of whether a priori warranted beliefs are empirically indefeasible, arguing that it is misguided to demand such indefeasibility of a priori warranted beliefs since that demand is not made for other sources of warrant. The question that rather should be posed is whether beliefs for which a priori warrant is provided qualify as knowledge on a consistent basis, and this question can be given an affirmative answer even in the face of empirical defeasibility. (shrink)