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A posteriori

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P002-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2011
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

A prominent term in theory of knowledge since the seventeenth century, ‘a posteriori’ signifies a kind of knowledge or justification that depends on evidence, or justification, from sensory experience. A posteriori truth is truth that cannot be known or justified independently of evidence from sensory experience, and a posteriori concepts are concepts that cannot be understood independently of reference to sensory experience. A posteriori knowledge contrasts with a priori knowledge, knowledge that does not require evidence from sensory experience. A posteriori knowledge is empirical, experience-based knowledge, whereas a priori knowledge is nonempirical knowledge. Standard examples of a posteriori truths are the truths of ordinary perceptual experience and the natural sciences; standard examples of a priori truths are the truths of logic and mathematics. The common understanding of the distinction between a posteriori and a priori knowledge as the distinction between empirical and nonempirical knowledge comes from Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason 1781/1787.

Citing this article:
Moser, Paul K.. A posteriori, 2011, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P002-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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