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Priori Justification and Experience

Title: A Priori Justification and Experience.
Name(s): Watson, Jamie Carlin, author
Bishop, Michael A., professor directing dissertation
Bowers, Philip, outside committee member
Dancy, Russell, committee member
Department of Philosophy, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2009
Publisher: Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: This dissertation is about a priori justification and its relationship to experiential evidence. I begin the fundamental assumption that a priori justification is justification that is independent of experience. It has been argued that putative examples of a priori justification are implausible because they are not, in any significant sense, independent of experience. My two central claims are that (a) a subject is plausibly justified a priori in believing a proposition only if the belief is not revisable on empirical grounds, which I will call the empirical unrevisability thesis; and (b) moderate rationalists can resist four empirical challenges considered by many to be decisive against the empirical unrevisability thesis. I begin by developing an account of experiential evidence that is neutral between rationalists and empiricists in order to make clear the distinction between a priori and a posteriori justification. I then argue that a moderate rationalist account of a priori justification is plausible only if the beliefs justified a priori are empirically unrevisable in a qualified sense. I then argue that four classical objections that putative cases of a priori justification are not independent of experience fail, namely, that they are revisable by some instances of contrary testimony, by mistakes in long proofs and memory, that a paradigm example of a priori knowledge was overturned by new evidence in physics, and that psychological data undermines the reliability of sources of a priori justification. I conclude that there is only one potentially threatening case, derived from neurological malfunction, and I leave the solution to this case to future research.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-1232 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Dissertation Submitted to the Department of Philosophy in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester, 2009.
Date of Defense: August 7, 2009.
Keywords: Geometry, Experience, Testimony, Epistemology, A Priori, Justification
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory committee: Michael A. Bishop, Professor Directing Dissertation; Philip Bowers, Outside Committee Member; Russell Dancy, Committee Member.
Subject(s): Philosophy
Persistent Link to This Record:
Owner Institution: FSU

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Watson, J. C. (2009). A Priori Justification and Experience. Retrieved from