Authors
Hiu Chan
Lingnan University
Abstract
This thesis studies whether there is a tenable distinction between a priori justification and a posteriori justification. My research considers three possible conceptions of a priori: Justification Independent of Experience, Mere Meaning Based Justification and Justification by Rational Insight, and examines whether they can provide a sound and significant distinction between a priori and a posteriori. This thesis contains five chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the background knowledge of the a priori/a posteriori distinction. Chapter 2 analyzes the traditional conception of a priori, i.e. justification independent of experience, and considers whether the distinction based on it is tenable. Five approaches for defining “experience” are examined, but none of them succeed in providing a distinction between a priori and a posteriori. Chapter 3 focuses on the empiricist conception of the a priori, i.e. a priori as mere meaning based justification, and argues that the distinction based on it has a problem of classification. Chapter 4 concerns the rationalist conception of the a priori, i.e. a priori as justification by rational insight, and argues that neither the idea of justification by rational insight itself nor the distinctive features of rational insight could provide a distinction between a priori and a posteriori. Given that none of the current major accounts seem to work, we should not be optimistic about the potential for success in accounting for the distinction between a priori and a posteriori. In the last chapter, I will conclude the thesis and point out the implication of abandoning the a priori/a posteriori distinction: a need to reform our understanding of the nature of different sources of justification and knowledge.
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Language, Truth and Logic.A. J. Ayer - 1936 - London: V. Gollancz.
Warrant and Proper Function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - Oxford University Press.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Analyticity Reconsidered.Paul Boghossian - 1996 - Noûs 30 (3):360-391.

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