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)
This essay motivates a revised version of the epistemic condition of safety and then employs the revision to (i) challenge traditional conceptions of apriority, (ii) refute ‘strong privileged access’, and (iii) resolve a well-known puzzle about externalism and self-knowledge.
According to the modal account of propositional apriority, a proposition is a priori if it is possible to know it with a priori justification. Assuming that modal truths are necessarily true and that there are contingent a priori truths, this account has the undesirable consequence that a proposition can be a priori in a world in which it is false. Epistemic two-dimensionalism faces the same problem, since on its standard interpretation, it also entails that a priori propositions are necessarily (...) a priori. In response to this problem, Chalmers and Rabern propose an alternative conception of propositional apriority as well as two-dimensional truth-conditions for apriority statements. Their proposal is also supposed to avoid another problem for the modal account, namely that it entails the existence of false instances of ‘φ iff actually φ’. I discuss Chalmers and Rabern’s account and point out a number of problems with it. I then develop my own account of propositional apriority that solves the problems in question, that can be accepted by friends and foes of two-dimensionalism alike, and that is also neutral with respect to the question of how one construes the objects of propositional apriority. (shrink)
In this article, I present a novel account of a priori warrant, which I then use to examine the relationship between a priori and a posteriori warrant in mathematics. According to this account of a priori warrant, the reason that a posteriori warrant is subordinate to a priori warrant in mathematics is because processes that produce a priori warrant are reliable independent of the contexts in which they are used, whereas this is not true for processes that produce a posteriori (...) warrant. Following this, I show how this difference explains why a priori warranting processes, such as proof (and mathematical intuition) can, and a posteriori warranting processes cannot, definitively establish mathematical results. I then show why, in the event of a conflict between a priori and a posteriori warranting processes, the former undermine, and cannot be undermined by, the latter. Finally, I explain the connection between apriority and mathematical necessity, but do so in a way that allows for the existence of contingent a priori knowledge. (shrink)
If the a priori is the proper subject matter of transcendental philosophy, then the problems of the a priori are also problems for transcendental philosophy. the idea that defines transcendental philosophy is the idea that there are stable general structures which are discernible in experience, provide the foundations of our knowledge of it, and collectively constitute an a priori which transcends experience and informs it. the a priori is traditionally conceived as a nexus of relations which is held to be (...) logically/temporally prior to experience and responsible for its organization. in this essay, i challenge this traditional (kantian) understanding of the a priori and set forth an alternative to it based on the writings of maurice merleau-ponty. the intent is to provide a new conception of transcendental philosophy. (shrink)
In the 17th and 18th centuries, mathematics was understood to be the science that systematized our knowledge of magnitude, or quantity. But the mathematical notion of magnitude and the methods used to investigate it underwent a period of radical transformation during the modern period, which forced philosophers of mathematics to confront a changing mathematical landscape. In this context, the modern philosopher of mathematics had to provide an account of the apriority and applicability of mathematical reasoning, as such reasoning was (...) then understood. Early modern mathematical reasoning and the accounts of such reasoning offered by Newton, Descartes, Leibniz, and Kant are explained and discussed. (shrink)
In the 1960s and 1970s, Hilary Putnam articulated a notion of relativized apriority that was motivated to address the problem of scientific change. This paper examines Putnam’s account in its historical context and in relation to contemporary views. I begin by locating Putnam’s analysis in the historical context of Quine’s rejection of apriority, presenting Putnam as a sympathetic commentator on Quine. Subsequently, I explicate Putnam’s positive account of apriority, focusing on his analysis of the history of physics (...) and geometry. In the remainder of the paper, I explore connections between Putnam’s account of relativized a priori principles and contemporary views. In particular, I situate Putnam’s account in relation to analyses advanced by Michael Friedman, David Stump, and William Wimsatt. From this comparison, I address issues concerning whether a priori scientific principles are appropriately characterized as “constitutive” or “entrenched”. I argue that these two features need to be clearly distinguished, and that only the constitutive function is essential to apriority. By way of conclusion, I explore the relationship between the constitutive function of a priori principles and entrenchment. (shrink)
Is imagination a source of knowledge? Timothy Williamson has recently argued that our imaginative capacities can yield knowledge of a variety of matters, spanning from everyday practical matters to logic and set theory. Furthermore, imagination for Williamson plays a similar epistemic role in cognitive processes that we would traditionally classify as either a priori or a posteriori, which he takes to indicate that the distinction itself is shallow and epistemologically fruitless. In this chapter, I aim to defend the a priori-a (...) posteriori distinction from Williamson’s challenge by questioning his account of imagination. I distinguish two notions of imagination at play in Williamson’s account – sensory vs. belief-like imagination – and show that both face empirical and normative issues. Sensory imagination seems neither necessary nor sufficient for knowledge. Whereas, belief-like imagination isn’t adequately disentangled from inference. Additionally, Williamson’s examples are ad hoc and don’t generalize. I conclude that Williamson’s case against the a priori-a posteriori distinction is unconvincing, and so is the thesis that imagination is an epistemic source. (shrink)
There is an important and fairly straightforward link between necessity and apriority which can shed light on our knowledge of the former, but initially plausible attempts to spell out what it is fall victim to counterexamples. Casullo discusses one such proposal, argues—following Anderson :1–20, )—that it fails, and suggests an alternative. In this paper, I argue that Casullo’s alternative also fails, before making a suggestion for which I can find no counterexamples and which, notably, handles some recent examples due (...) to Kipper and Strohminger and Yli-Vakkuri. (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)
The classical view of the relationship between necessity and apriority, defended by Leibniz and Kant, is that all necessary truths are known a priori. The classical view is now almost universally rejected, ever since Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam discovered that there are necessary truths that are known only a posteriori. However, in recent years a new debate has emerged over the epistemology of these necessary a posteriori truths. According to one view – call it the neo-classical view – (...) knowledge of a necessary truth always depends on at least one item of a priori knowledge. According to the rival view – call it the neoempiricist view – our knowledge of necessity is sometimes broadly empirical. In this paper I present and defend an argument against the neo-empiricist view. I argue that knowledge of the necessity of a necessary truth could not be broadly empirical. (shrink)
In interpretations of the "Transcendental Aesthetic" section of the first Critique, there is a widespread tendency to present Kant as establishing that the representation of space is a condition for individuating or distinguishing objects, and to claim that it is on this basis that Kant establishes the apriority of this representation. The aim of this paper is to criticize this way of interpreting the "Aesthetic," and to defend an alternative interpretation. On this alternative, questions about the formation of the (...) representation of space figure more centrally, and the anti-Leibnizian character of Kant 's argument can be properly appreciated. (shrink)
In this paper we suggest the use of ontological structures as an appropriate tool for describing the foundations of reality. Every vertex of this structure, representing a fundamental entity in the universe, is completely and solely characterized by its connections to the other vertices in the structure. The edges of this structure are binary compounds of the FEs, and are identified with the elementary particles. The combinations including more than 2 connected vertices correspond to composite particles. The principles according to (...) which the OSs are designed Philosophy of the natural sciences, VHP Tempsky, Vienna, 1989; Shoshani in Phys Essays 4:566–576, 1991; Shoshani in Phys Essays 11:512–520, 1998) are discussed in Sect. 2, and the simplest OSs having the minimal number of vertices, and thus represent the simplest universe, are given in Sect. 3. This section also describes an OS that includes an infinite number of vertices that might represent the space–time points. This structure imparts a new meaning to space–time, detached from their intuitive grasp :285–292, 2010). Section 4 is devoted to show how to ascribe intrinsic properties to the fundamental entities by using their inter-connections in the OS. The predictive power and explanatory capacity of this theory, named Apriorics :126–130, 2014) are briefly described in Sects. 3 and 4. (shrink)
The apriority of moral feeling is an indispensable part of Kant's insistence on moral certainty as a foundation for ethics. Even though the moral feeling of respect cannot be the source of our knowledge of the authority of the moral law, moral feeling is a catalyst to self-criticism and moral self-confidence. It is argued that moral feeling reveals a nonempirical object, one's moral character. In fact, moral feeling plays a representational role that parallels sense experience, but does not derive (...) from sense experience. His general remarks on sensibility and representations and his specific discussion of moral sensibility make it hard to take feeling as central to his ethics, but this paper explains how they in no way preclude a representational function for moral sense. (shrink)
This paper addresses problems associated with the role of the empirical concept of matter in Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, offering an interpretation emphasizing two points consistently neglected in the secondary literature: the distinction between logical and real essence, and Kant's claim that motion must be represented in pure intuition by static geometrical figures. I conclude that special metaphysics cannot achieve its stated and systematically justified goal of discovering the real essence of matter, but that Kant requires this failure (...) for his larger philosophical presentation of the dialectic that (A298/B354). (shrink)
In what follows, I argue that Hume works with a notion of the a priori that, though unfamiliar today, was standard in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. On this notion of the a priori, to know (consider, prove) something a priori is to know (consider, prove) it from the grounds that make it true. I will refer to this as the "from-grounds" notion of the a priori, and to the now-familiar and dominant notion—on which to know something a priori is (...) to know it with a justification that is independent of experience—as the "non-empirical" notion.Hume holds, as a substantive thesis, that one knows something a priori, where 'a priori' is understood in the from-grounds sense, only if one knows it independently of .. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with a propositional modal logic with operators for necessity, actuality and apriority. The logic is characterized by a class of relational structures defined according to ideas of epistemic two-dimensional semantics, and can therefore be seen as formalizing the relations between necessity, actuality and apriority according to epistemic two-dimensional semantics. We can ask whether this logic is correct, in the sense that its theorems are all and only the informally valid formulas. This paper gives outlines (...) of two arguments that jointly show that this is the case. The first is intended to show that the logic is informally sound, in the sense that all of its theorems are informally valid. The second is intended to show that it is informally complete, in the sense that all informal validities are among its theorems. In order to give these arguments, a number of independently interesting results concerning the logic are proven. In particular, the soundness and completeness of two proof systems with respect to the semantics is proven (Theorems 2.11 and 2.15), as well as a normal form theorem (Theorem 3.2), an elimination theorem for the actuality operator (Corollary 3.6), and the decidability of the logic (Corollary 3.7). It turns out that the logic invalidates a plausible principle concerning the interaction of apriority and necessity; consequently, a variant semantics is briefly explored on which this principle is valid. The paper concludes by assessing the implications of these results for epistemic two-dimensional semantics. (shrink)
Logical structure may explain the necessity and a priori knowability of such truths as that if A is red then A is either red or green. But this explanation cannot be extended to sentences that, while necessary and knowable a priori, do not wear the appropriate logical structure on their sleeves – sentences like ''''if A is a point and A is red, then A is not green,'''' or ''''if A is a sphere, then A is not a cube.'''' The (...) real origin of these sentences'' necessity and a priori knowability is a relationship between the meanings of their component atomic sentences – a relationship which cannot be systematically reduced to logical structure by translating those atomic sentences into any kind of ''''ideal'''' language. Moreover, this kind of relationship is one to which any atomic sentences are susceptible if they have a classifying, or comparison-implying, content. Arguably, then, all atomic sentences are capable of being related to others in ways that are necessary and knowable a priori. (shrink)
The first major section of the Critique of Pure Reason, the Transcendental Aesthetic, is concerned with the nature of space and time, and with the nature of our representation of them. In interpretations of this part of the Critique, there is a very widespread tendency to present Kant’s discussion of space as attempting to establish that the representation of space is a condition for individuating or distinguishing objects, and that it is on this basis that Kant establishes the apriority (...) of this representation. I believe that this way of interpreting the Aesthetic is wholly misguided. The interpretive tendency I have in mind takes a number of different forms. On one approach, the role of space is to allow us to distinguish objects even if they are qualitatively identical. This represents Kant as making a certain kind of anti-Leibnizian point, one that concerns Leibniz’s principle of the identity of indiscernibles. On another approach, space—or something closely analogous to space—is regarded as essential on account of its role in allowing us to re-identify objects over time. Interpretations of Kant that follow the second approach are largely inspired by Strawson’s discussions of these matters in chapter 2 of Individuals. (shrink)
The thesis that the necessary and the a priori are extensionally equivalent consists of two independent claims: 1) All a priori truths are necessary and 2) all necessary truths are a priori. In Naming and Necessity1 Saul A. Kripke gives examples of necessary but a posteriori truths, so he disagrees with the second leg of the thesis.2 His examples are of two types; on the one hand statements involving essential properties and on the other hand true identity statements. My concern (...) will be with examples of the second type and whether they refute (2). (2), however, is ambiguous and can mean one of three things. (shrink)
The paper critically discusses the Chalmers-and-Jackson strategy of accounting for the dynamics of conceptual intuitions. In contrast to this strategy, it is argued that concepts alone do not determine in advance rational responses to new evidence. An initial concept is often revised in the light of new data, the revision being guided by the goal of detecting the deep causal structure of the domain investigated. Using examples from the history of science (concept REFLEX ARC) as an illustration, it is argued (...) that the dilemma of either irrational messy updating of intuitions (Yablo) or strict rails of conceptual pre-determination (Chalmers-Jackson) is a false one. Rationality does not lie in the alleged conceptual apriority, but in the flexible pursuit of reasonable epistemic goals. (shrink)
The paper argues that the use of epistemic terms, prominently “… knows” and even “… knows a priori/a posteriori” is context-sensitive along several dimensions. Besides the best known dimension of quality of evidence (lower quality for less demanding context, and higher one for more demanding), there is a dimension of depth (shallow justification for superficial evaluation, and deeper justification for deeper probing evaluation contexts). This claim is illustrated by context-dependent ascription of apriority and aposteriority. The argument proposed here focuses (...) upon the status of propositions that are analytic in empirical concepts (like “Whales are animals”). It is a commonplace in epistemology that any analytic proposition (including e-analytic ones) is a priori. The paper claims that propositions analyzing empirical concepts are an interesting counterexample. It develops the following argument: Many such propositions have empirical counterparts that are expressed by the same form-of-words. (E.g., the form of words “Whales are mammals” can express both an e-analytic proposition and an empirical statement.) They normally derive from their empirical counterparts. Beliefs in such propositions, can be explicitly justified either a priori, by pointing out their conceptual, analytic status, or by reverting to their empirical counterparts. In contexts of very superficial evaluation, one may justify such an analytic belief in the first, conceptual way. In most contexts a belief in a proposition analyzing an empirical concept is being justified by appeal to its empirical counterparts. The empirical justification is normally taken as being ultimate. Empirical counterparts are derivationally deeper than the corresponding analytic propositions, and empirical justification is deeper than a priori one as well. Therefore, propositions analyzing empirical concepts are deeply a posteriori and superficially a priori. (shrink)
THE PAPER BEGINS BY CONSIDERING THREE ALTERNATIVE DEFINITIONS OF "ANALYTIC," ONE IN TERMS OF LOGICAL TRUTH, ONE IN TERMS OF THE MEANINGS OF WORDS, AND ONE IN TERMS OF SELF-CONTRADICTION OR INCOHERENCE. NEXT, FIVE DEFINITIONS OF "NECESSARY" ARE CONSIDERED, ONE IN TERMS OF ANALYTICITY, AND ONE PICKING OUT THE BROADER KIND OF LOGICAL NECESSITY DISCUSSED BY KRIPKE AND PLANTINGA. FINALLY, THREE DEFINITIONS OF "A PRIORI" ARE CONSIDERED. ONLY ON A FEW OF THESE DEFINITIONS DO THE CATEGORIES OF ANALYTIC, NECESSARY, AND (...) A PRIORI COINCIDE. (shrink)
In this essay I discuss Fichte's changing understanding of the a priori/a posteriori distinction from the earliest writings on the Wissenschaftslehre to the System of Ethics. I argue that Fichte moves decisively away from the Kantian conception of the a priori, due to his development of the ideal/real distinction in his elaboration of the Wissenschaftslehre. Since Fichte's conception of apriority is not Kant's, we can only understand his claim that the System of Ethics can provide an answer a priori (...) to the question: what is our duty? (shrink)
The paper raises two questions, which seem central to understanding Kant's transcendental epistemology in the first Critique. First, Kant claims that the conditions for the possibility of experience are also conditions for the possibility of the objects of experience (A158/B197). Here the notion of an object is not conceived from the divine standpoint ('the view from nowhere') and is in some sense relativized to experience. But in what sense? Is the notion of an object relativized to one specific kind of (...) experience, human experience? Or is it relativized only to any possible experience? Second, in what sense is Kant's transcendental epistemology a priori? Is it a priori in the strong sense that its starting-point - the notion of experience in the question 'How is experience possible?' - is a priori? Or is it a priori only in the weak sense that, while the notion of experience is obtained empirically, a priori reasoning is required to establish how experience is possible? It has recently been argued (by Patricia Kitcher, Kant's Transcendental Psychology) that (a) the results that Kant wants to establish transcenden-tally about objects are relative to one specific kind of experience, human experience, and (b) Kant's transcendental epistemology is a priori only in the weak sense that the reasoning is a priori, while the starting-point is empirical. These claims are indeed crucial to Kitcher's overall aim of naturalizing Kant's transcendental epistemology. The aim of the paper is to resist both claims. I argue that Kant's notion of an object of experience is the notion of an object of any possible experience, not the notion of an object of one specific kind of experience, human experience. It follows, I argue, that Kant's transcendental epistemology is a priori in the strong sense that its starting-point is a priori. If we deny strong apriority, we fail to account for Kant's move from the nature of experience to the nature of empirical reality: empirical reality as such, not empirical reality as experienced by a particular variety of creatures capable of experience. The upshot is that, for better or worse, Kant's transcendental epistemology cannot be naturalized. (shrink)
I argue that we need not accept Quine's holistic conception of mathematics and empirical science. Specifically, I argue that we should reject Quine's holism for two reasons. One, his argument for this position fails to appreciate that the revision of the mathematics employed in scientific theories is often related to an expansion of the possibilities of describing the empirical world, and that this reveals that mathematics serves as a kind of rational framework for empirical theorizing. Two, this holistic conception does (...) not clearly demarcate pure mathematics from applied mathematics. In arguing against Quine, I present a formal account of applied mathematics in which the mathematics employed in an empirical theory plays a role that is analogous to the epistemological role Kant assigned synthetic a priori propositions. According to this account, it is possible to insulate pure mathematics from empirical falsification, and there is a sense in which applied mathematics can also be labeled as a priori. (shrink)
I argue that beliefs that are true whenever held-like I exist, I am thinking about myself, and (in an object-dependent framework) Jack = Jack-needn't on that account be a priori. It does however seem possible to remove the existential commitment from the last example, to get a belief that is knowable a priori. I discuss some difficulties concerning how to do that.
This paper introduces a referential reading of Kant?s practical project, according to which maxims are made morally permissible by their correspondence to objects, though not the ontic objects of Kant?s theoretical project but deontic objects (what ought to be). It illustrates this model by showing how the content of the Formula of Universal Law might be determined by what our capacity of practical reason can stand in a referential relation to, rather than by facts about what kind of beings we (...) are (viz., uncaused causes). This solves the neglected puzzle of why there are passages in Kant?s works suggesting robust analogies between mathematics and ethics, since to universalize a maxim is to test a priori whether a practical object with that particular content can be constructed. An apparent problem with this hypothesis is that the medium of practical sensibility (feeling) does not play a role analogous to the medium of theoretical sensibility (intuition). In response I distinguish two separate Kantian accounts of mathematical apriority. The thesis that maxim universalization is a species of construction, and thus a priori, turns out to be consistent with the account of apriority that informs Kant?s understanding of actual mathematical practice. (shrink)
This paper raises a dilemma for Skorupski’s meta-normative outlook in The Domain of Reasons and explores some escape routes, recommending a more thoroughgoing Kantianism as the best option. §1 argues that we cannot plausibly combine Skorupski’s spontaneity-based epistemology of normativity with his cognition-independent view of normative truth. §§2–4 consider whether we should keep the epistemology and revise the metaphysics, opting for constructivism. While Skorupski’s negative case for his spontaneity-based epistemology is found wanting, it is suggested that a better argument for (...) keeping the epistemology and switching to Kantian constructivism can be given from a thesis he ﬁnds appealing—viz., ‘cognitive internalism’. While this premise is not, it is argued, obviously true, the view it supports does provide a good way to undergird Skorupski’s most interesting rationale for his reasons-ﬁrst approach. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend the compatibility of externalism and privileged access and argue that the warrant transmission succeeds in cases of armchair knowledge, but that it does not have the anti-sceptical consequences that it is typically thought to have.
The paper argues that there is such a thing as luck in acquisition of candidate a priori beliefs and knowledge, and that the possibility of luck in this “armchair” domain shows that definitions of believing by luck that p offered in literature are inadequate, since they mostly rely on the possibility of it being the case that not- p. When p is necessary, such a definition should be supplemented by one pointing to variation in belief, not in the fact believed. (...) Thus the paper suggests a focus upon the agent and her epistemic virtue in the account of epistemic luck in general. (shrink)
Philip Kitcher has argued against the apriority of mathematical knowledge in a number of places. His arguments rely on a conception of mathematical knowledge as embedded in a historical tradition and the claim that this sort of embedding compromises apriority. In this paper, I argue that tradition dependence of mathematical knowledge does not compromise its apriority. I further identify the factors which appear to lead Kitcher to argue as he does.