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- Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:
Abstract: Michael Devitt has been developing an influential two-pronged attack on the a priori for over thirteen years. This attack does not attempt to undermine the coherence or significance of the distinction between the a priori and the a posteriori, but rather to answer the question: ‘What Can We Know A Priori?’ with: ‘Nothing’. In this paper I explain why I am dissatisfied with key extant responses to Devitt’s attack, and then take my own steps towards resisting the attack as it appears in two recent incarnations. Devitt aims firstly to undermine the motivation for believing in any a priori knowledge, and secondly to provide reasons directly against believing in any. I argue that he misidentifies the motivations available to the a priorist, and that his reasons against believing in the a priori do not take account of all the options. I also argue that his attempt to combine the two prongs of the attack into an abductive argument for his anti-a priorist position does not succeed.
Comment: Suitable for an upper-level undergraduate courses or master courses on epistemology. It is good for teachings on topics of a priori knowledge.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format
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Abstract: The goal of the research programme I describe in this article is a realist epistemology for arithmetic which respects arithmetic’s special epistemic status (the status usually described as a prioricity) yet accommodates naturalistic concerns by remaining funda- mentally empiricist. I argue that the central claims which would allow us to develop such an epistemology are (i) that arithmetical truths are known through an examination of our arithmetical concepts; (ii) that (at least our basic) arithmetical concepts are accurate mental representations of elements of the arithmetical structure of the inde- pendent world; (iii) that (ii) obtains in virtue of the normal functioning of our sensory apparatus. The first of these claims protects arithmetic’s special epistemic status relative, for example, to the laws of physics, the second preserves the independence of arithmetical truth, and the third ensures that we remain empiricists.
Comment: Useful as a primary or secondary reading in an advanced undergraduate course epistemology (in a section on a priori knowledge) or an advanced undergraduate course on philosophy of mathematics. This is not an easy paper, but it is clear. It is also useful within a teaching context, as it provides a summary of the influential neo-Fregean approach to mathematical knowledge.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format