PHIL 350A:  Study Questions for Week #4

 

1.  Explain the following distinctions (you may use examples): 

(a) a priori/a posteriori

(b) analytic/synthetic

(c) necessary truth/contingent truth

(d) rationalist/empiricist/pragmatist

(e) genuine/mock a priori insight

 

2.  Explain what synthetic a priori knowledge would be?  What knowledge did Kant believe to be synthetic a priori?  Did he make any mistakes?  Do you believe any knowledge is synthetic a priori?  Explain.  Could you be mistaken?  Explain.

 

3.  Is all a priori knowledge of necessary truths?  What is Kripke's objection?  Is it persuasive?  What is the Kitcher-Plantinga objection?  Is it persuasive?

 

4.  What is the status of our knowledge of the laws of logic:  a priori or a posteriori? analytic or synthetic? [Note that Pojman differs from Frege on this question.]

 

5.  Pojman characterizes one of the differences between rationalists and empiricists as whether they accept innate ideas.  Explain why this is not a good way to characterize the difference.

 

6.  Pojman limits his account of a priori justification to propositions.  BonJour extends it to reasoning.  What is the role of a priori justification in BonJour's account of reasoning?  Explain why BonJour thinks that this role is the more important one.  Explain why BonJour thinks that the very idea of reasoning requires a commitment to a priori justification.  How might someone who denies a priori justification reply?

 

7.  What is the Fregean conception of analyticity?  What are examples of propositions that BonJour regards as justified a priori, but do not fit the Fregean conception of analyticity? 

 

8.  The most common conception of analyticity is "true in virtue of meaning".  What is BonJour's objection to this conception?

 

9.  Does BonJour believe that apparent a priori insights are infallible?  If a priori insights are not infallible, but they give us necessary truths, then it would seem that someone who claims to have an a priori insight that p would be claiming:  I may be mistaken but p could not be false.  Could it make sense to make such a claim?  Explain. 

 

10.  What is the problem of conflicts of a priori insight?  How does BonJour deal with it?

 

11.  What is the problem of induction?  What is Hume's dilemma? 

 

12.  What is the pragmatic vindication of induction?  What problems does BonJour raise for it?

 

13.  What is the ordinary language justification of induction?  What important point does it make?  What problems does BonJour raise for it?

 

14.  Why does BonJour think that induction cannot be justified by appeal to experience?  Why would BonJour's argument imply that we cannot determine the reliability of our memory on the basis of experience?  Can we?  This is a question that we will take up in Week 7.  What is BonJour's solution to Hume's dilemma?  What is necessary for BonJour to have a complete solution?