A priori

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P001-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved February 26, 2020, from

Article Summary

An important term in epistemology since the seventeenth century, ‘a priori’ typically connotes a kind of knowledge or justification that does not depend on evidence, or warrant, from sensory experience. Talk of a priori truth is ordinarily shorthand for talk of truth knowable or justifiable independently of evidence from sensory experience; and talk of a priori concepts is usually talk of concepts that can be understood independently of reference to sensory experience. A priori knowledge contrasts with a posteriori knowledge, knowledge requiring evidence from sensory experience. Broadly characterized, a posteriori knowledge is empirical, experience-based knowledge, and a priori knowledge is non-empirical knowledge. Standard examples of a priori truths are the truths of mathematics, whereas standard examples of a posteriori truths are the truths of the natural sciences.

    Citing this article:
    Moser, Paul K.. A priori, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P001-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
    Copyright © 1998-2020 Routledge.

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