A Priori Knowledge in Perspective: Naming, Necessity and the Analytic a Posteriori

Review of Metaphysics 41 (2):255 - 282 (1987)

Abstract

This is the second in a two part series of articles that attempt to clarify the nature and enduring relevance of Kant's concept of a priori knowledge. (For Part I, see below.) In this article I focus mainly on Saul Kripke's critique of Kant, in Naming and Necessity. I argue that Kripke draws attention to a genuine defect in Kant's epistemological framework, but that he used definitions of certain key terms that were quite different from Kant's definitions. When Kripke's definitions are replaced by Kant's definitions, Kripke's account of the status of naming turns out to be a defense of analytic aposteriority as a significant classification of knowledge that Kant neglected. I also introduce here a new way of understanding such epistemological labels, as defining the perspective adopted by the knowing subject in a given situation, rather than an objective characteristic of certain propositions as such.

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