Two Conceptions of the Synthetic A Priori

In L. E. Hahn (ed.), The Philosophy of Roderick Chisholm (The Library of Living Philosophers). Chicago: Open Court. pp. 629--651 (1997)

Authors
Marian David
University of Graz
Abstract
Roderick Chisholm appears to agree with Kant on the question of the existence of synthetic a priori knowledge. But Chisholm’s conception of the a priori is a traditional Aristotelian conception and differs markedly from Kant’s. Closer scrutiny reveals that their agreement on the question of the synthetic a priori is merely verbal: what Kant meant to affirm, Chisholm denies. Curiously, it looks as if Chisholm agreed on all substantive issues with the empiricist rejection of Kant’s synthetic a priori. In the end, it turns out that Chisholm disagrees with both, empiricism and Kant, over a fundamental question: whether mere understanding of the contents of our thoughts must always remain within the circle of our own ideas or can provide us with genuine knowledge of matters of fact.
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