Contingent A Priori Knowledge

At some point in the future you’ll be able to read my new argument for the possibility of contingent a priori knowledge in the pages of Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. For now you can read it here.


Contingent A Priori Knowledge — 9 Comments

  1. Regarding the “Most Unlikely” argument: Are you claiming that some beliefs of the form “X is highly unlikely to occur” can be justified a priori? Or are you claiming that Sam gains a priori knowledge solely in making the leap from “X is highly unlikely to occur” to “X will not occur” regardless how she knows the former proposition?

  2. Hi, Jacob. In the example, Sam doesn’t take a detour through any belief about unlikelihood. She just believes that the most unlikely possible event won’t occur. The only transition in thought is from the intuition to that belief.

  3. I very much enjoyed reading your paper, which I happened to sort of stumble upon. I am not a professional philosopher, but I was somewhat surprised that you didn’t interact more with Plantinga’s work on contingent a priori knowledge.

  4. Thanks, Gavin. What work of Plantinga’s did you have in mind? I did reference his Warrant and Proper Function. In ch. 6.1 (esp. circa 104 – 107) Plantinga seems to express the view that all human knowledge is of necessary truths, and indeed that the phenomenology of a priori belief includes the conviction that the claim in question not only is true but that it could not have been false. So he seems to agree with the standard view.

    Now, he does appear to make some sort of concession (acknowledging debts Aron Ediden and Dean Zimmerman) that it’s not obvious that you couldn’t have a priori knowledge of contingent truths, speculating finally that there might be no answer to the question whether such is possible. But such a half-hearted concession didn’t seem interesting or substantial enough to spend time on.

    But maybe you had some other passage or work in mind where Plantinga takes a more definite stand on the question?

  5. My apologies. I should have paid more attention to your bibliography.

    And I actually had in mind Plantinga’s “The Nature of Necessity” (1974).


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