The a priori defended: a defense of the generality argument
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One of Laurence BonJour’s main arguments for the existence of the a priori is an argument that a priori justification is indispensable for making inferences from experience to conclusions that go beyond experience. This argument has recently come under heavy fire from Albert Casullo, who has dubbed BonJour’s argument, “The Generality Argument.” In this paper I (i) defend the Generality Argument against Casullo’s criticisms, and (ii) develop a new, more plausible, version of the Generality Argument in response to some other objections of my own. Two of these objections stem out of BonJour’s failing to fully consider the importance of the distinction between being justified in believing that an inference is good and being justified in making an inference. The final version of the argument that I develop sees the Generality Argument as one part of a cumulative case argument for the existence of a priori justification, rather than as a stand-alone knock-down argument.
KeywordsA priori Rationalism Inference
Thanks to Juan Comesaña, Alan Sidelle, Keith Yandell, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. Thanks also to audiences at the Rochester Graduate Epistemology Conference, the 2007 Central APA Meeting, and the Young Philosophers Lecture Series at SUNY—Fredonia.
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