Owain_Evans2

Posts

Sorted by New

Comments

A Priori

And as the symbol of your treaty, your white flag, you use the phrase "a priori truth".

I should note that the most famous paper in 20th Century analytic philosophy, Quine's "Two Dogmas of Empiricism", is an attack on the idea of the a priori. The paper was written in 1951 and built on papers written in the previous two decades. A large proportion of contemporary philosophers agree with Quine's basic position. This doesn't stop them from doing theoretical work, just as Eliezer's disavowal of the a priori need not prevent him theorizing about rationality, philosophy of science, or epistemology.

In "Two Dogmas", Quine talks mainly about a certain view of a priori knowledge that was held by logical empiricists such as Carnap, Ayer, etc. This view, that all a priori statements are analytic, already gives a significantly smaller role to a priori justification than did previous philosophers. Roughly, the empiricists didn't think that there were synthetic statements that could be known a priori.

Quine's paper is quite hard to read without some of the philosophical background. A more recent discussion of his view can be found in Harman's essay "Death of Meaning" in his book "Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind". This is available online (if you have subscription) at Oxford Scholarship.