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The Implicit Conception and Intuition Theory of the A Priori, with Implications for Experimental Philosophy

The Implicit Conception and Intuition Theory of the A Priori, with Implications for Experimental Philosophy

Chapter:
(p.67) 3 The Implicit Conception and Intuition Theory of the A Priori, with Implications for Experimental Philosophy
Source:
The A Priori in Philosophy
Author(s):
Joshua C. Thurow
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199695331.003.0004

On the face of it, much of what philosophers do is a priori. Many philosophical views are defended using intuitions that seem a priori justified. However, the a priori faces two challenges: 1) it is unclear how a priori beliefs could be formed reliably, and 2) the results of experimental philosophy seem to cast doubt on the reliability of a priori intuitions. This chapter aims to respond to both of these challenges by developing a theory—the Implicit Conception and Intuition (ICI) Theory—of how a priori beliefs can be reliably produced. This theory explains how there can be a reliable connection between intuitions and implicit conceptions for relevant concept, and also a reliable connection between one’s implicit conceptions and truths involving the relevant concepts. The theory developed has several virtues: it is 1) consistent with the notion that a priori justification is fallible, 2) incorporable into both internalist and externalist theories of justification and knowledge, and 3) consistent with internalism and externalism about content. Furthermore, it is argued that according to this theory, an extreme restrictionist view of the epistemic value of the a priori is not warranted, but that experimental philosophy can in principle be useful for 1) developing a better understanding of many concepts (and their objects) that philosophers study, and 2) identifying ways in which our intuitions can be distorted.

Keywords:   a priori, intuition, implicit conception, experimental philosophy

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