Apriority as an Evaluative Notion

Hartry Field

in Truth and the Absence of Fact

Published in print March 2001 | ISBN: 9780199242894
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597381 | DOI:
 Apriority as an Evaluative Notion

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We want our methods of reasoning to be conducive to the truth; if we have reason to think that some of our methods are not, we revise them in favour of methods we think will be more so. This chapter presents a puzzle about the application of this to our most basic methods, and argues that the proper resolution would be that we could not ever have reason to think that they are not conducive to the truth; we could have reason to think that they have not been conducive to the truth in the past, but the methods in question would be sufficiently ‘self‐correcting’ that this discovery will qualitatively alter their future applications, and once this is seen, there would be no temptation to think they will not be conducive to the truth in the future. These most basic methods are thus a priori, in a strong sense that includes empirical indefeasibility. This point and a number of others are used to argue against standard ‘naturalist’ approaches to epistemology. But, rather than favouring ‘non‐naturalism’, the chapter argues for a view on which epistemological claims are not fully factual.

Keywords: a priori; indefeasibility; naturalism; naturalist epistemology; normative discourse; objectivity; relativism; rules; scepticism; self‐correcting methods

Chapter.  17714 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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