Is there a distinction between a priori and a posteriori


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.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 78,003

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

A priori and a posteriori.Jason S. Baehr - 2003 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
An analysis of the a priori and a posteriori.Jeremy Fantl - 2003 - Acta Analytica 18 (1-2):43-69.
How Deep is the Distinction between A Priori and A Posteriori Knowledge?Timothy Williamson - 2013 - In Albert Casullo & Joshua C. Thurow (eds.), The A Priori in Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 291-312.
A Priori Justification and Experience.Jamie Carlin Watson - 2009 - Dissertation, Florida State University
Rewriting the A Priori/A Posteriori Distinction.Peter Murphy - 2008 - Journal of Philosophical Research 33:279-284.
Two Kinds of Definition in Spinoza's Ethics.Kristina Meshelski - 2011 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (2):201-218.
Presupposition and the a priori.Nate Charlow - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (2):509-526.


Added to PP

28 (#425,165)

6 months
1 (#484,784)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Hiu Chan
Lingnan University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Language, Truth and Logic.Alfred Jules Ayer - 1936 - London: V. Gollancz.
Warrant and Proper Function.Alvin Plantinga - 1993 - New York, US: Oxford University Press.
Critique of Pure Reason.I. Kant - 1787/1998 - Philosophy 59 (230):555-557.
Language, Truth, and Logic.A. J. Ayer - 1936 - Philosophy 23 (85):173-176.

View all 31 references / Add more references