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Putting Metaphysics FirstEssays on Metaphysics and Epistemology$
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Michael Devitt

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280803

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280803.001.0001

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No Place for the A Priori *

No Place for the A Priori *

(p.271) 13 No Place for the A Priori*
Putting Metaphysics First

Michael Devitt (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that all knowledge is empirical. It attempts to undermine the motivation for the a priori that comes from examples in mathematics, philosophy, and logic. In particular, it argues that logic can be seen as empirical if rule-circular arguments are allowed. And a priorists cannot disallow such arguments because any justification of a priori reasoning would have to be rule-circular. The chapter argues that the whole idea of the a priori is unexplained and deeply obscure. Traditional attempts at explanation that appeal to analyticity fail in two ways. They rest on an unexplained acceptance of logical truths and on the mistaken view that competence with a concept is sufficient for knowledge about it. A consideration of the contemporary views of Peacocke, Bealer, and BonJour helps to bring out the obscurity.

Keywords:   a priori, empirical, mathematics, philosophy, logic, rule-circularity, concepts, Peacocke, Bealer, BonJour

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