PHI 205 Lecture Notes - Lecture 20: Empiricism, Empirical Evidence

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Published on 7 Apr 2017
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Knowledge a priori and a posteriori
A truth is knowable a priori if and only if we might have a corresponding justified belief
without relying on our perceptual faculties (seeing, hearing, touching, etc.)
A truth is knowable a posteriori if and only if we might have a corresponding justified
belief relying on our perceptual faculties
Analytic and synthetic judgments
For every judgment with a subject-predicate form:
oThe judgment is analytic if and only if the predicate is contained in the subject
oOtherwise, the judgment is synthetic
Rationalism and Empiricism
Kant believed both rationalists and empiricists tended to believe the following:
oEvery analytic judgment is knowable a priori
oNo synthetic judgment is knowable a priori
Kant
Every analytic judgment is knowable a priori
Some synthetic judgments are knowable a priori
oE.g., 7 + 5 = 12
Kant defends this idea in the following case:
o“First of all, we must observe that all proper mathematical judgments are a priori,
and not empirical, because they carry with them necessity, which cannot be
obtained from experience. But if this be not conceded to me, very good; I shall
confine my assertion pure Mathematics, the very notion of which implies that it
contains pure a priori and not empirical conditions” (Kant)
o“It might at first be thought that the proposition 7 + 5 = 12 is a mere analytical
judgment, following from the concept of the sum of seven and five, according to
the law of contradiction. But on closer examination, it appears that the concept of
the sum of 7 + 5 contains merely their union in a single number, without its being
at all thought what the particular number is that unites them. The concept of
twelve is by no means thought by merely thinking of the combination of seven
and five; and analyze this possible sum as we may, we shall not discover twelve
in the concept. We must go beyond these concepts, by calling to our aid some
concrete image…and we must add successively the unites of the five, given in
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