[hist-analytic] Frederick's conception of the A Priori

Roger Bishop Jones rbj at rbjones.com
Wed Apr 1 17:30:44 EDT 2009


On Monday 30 March 2009 16:26:19 Danny Frederick wrote:

>You are right that I attempted to demarcate a priori from empirical
>knowledge, rather than a priori from empirical propositions. 

>... discussion about falsifiability ...

>So a general distinction between empirical and non-empirical propositions
>does not make sense.

This seemed to me a non-sequitur.
At best you might have shown that such a distinction cannot be
based on falsifiability.

>... discussion of a priori knowledge ...

>Not entirely straightforward, I know; and no doubt I have left something
>out; but it is just a first stab.

This topic is one that I do intend to address in my monograph but have
not yet reached.  When I get there I hope you will still be around
to disagree with me.

>I completely reject the idea that there is any connection between what a
>proposition says and how it can be justified. First, because nothing can be

Well I would raise obvious objections to the first sentence
if the second didn't make that seem a bit pointless.
You might consider the possibility that someone else might
mean by justification something different to what you mean,
and that their conception of justification is one which might
be realised.

For example, a mathematician might use the term "justification"
to mean "convincing demonstration that a conjecture is provable
in ZFC".
My ideas about justification are along these lines.
We are free (as individuals or in groups such as professions)
to decide what kind of justification we will demand before
some conjecture is accepted by us or by some institution as
accepted fact.  To say that something is justified is to
say no more than that it meets the accepted standards for

Do you have a problem with this kind of "language game"?

>So, you are right: there are substantial disagreements between us!

Thanks for your further explanation of the position that you
share with Popper.

I am a bit puzzled why you are taking a stand against the
use of "a priori"/"a posteriori" as a classification
of propositions (rather than knowledge) on principle rather
than in relation to a specific proposal on how that might be done.
On the face of it that is orthogonal to the main thrust of
Popper's philosophy (or at least those parts you have sketched)
and you might consider proposals along those lines on their
The case on principle eludes me so I shall await more
concrete objections from you when I provide a fuller account
of my position on the a priori/a posteriori distinction.
(though we may founder on the notion of justification
and fail to reach disagreement).

Roger Jones

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