A New Definition of A Priori Knowledge: In Search of a Modal Basis

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Abstract

In this paper I will offer a novel understanding of a priori knowledge. My claim is that the sharp distinction that is usually made between a priori and a posteriori knowledge is groundless. It will be argued that a plausible understanding of a priori and a posteriori knowledge has to acknowledge that they are in a constant bootstrapping relationship. It is also crucial that we distinguish between a priori propositions that hold in the actual world and merely possible, non-actual a priori propositions, as we will see when considering cases like Euclidean geometry. Furthermore, contrary to what Kripke seems to suggest, a priori knowledge is intimately connected with metaphysical modality, indeed, grounded in it. The task of a priori reasoning, according to this account, is to delimit the space of metaphysically possible worlds in order for us to be able to determine what is actual.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-68
JournalMetaphysica
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2008

Keywords

  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • A priori
  • A posteriori
  • Modality

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