Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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A priori: something that we can know without prior (empirical) investigation. Is the inventory of a priori certainties purely logical? Is a priori knowledge always necessary?

Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments.

Author Concept Summary/Quotes Sources

Ruth Millikan on A priori - Dictionary of Arguments

I 325
A priori/Intension/Sense/Knowledge/Meaning/Wittgenstein/Quine/Millikan: the two can be understood in such a way that the knowledge that an expression or a proposition has meaning is knowledge a priori.
That's what I call the
Definition "Meaning-rationalism"/Millikan: Thesis: the knowledge that a proposition has meaning is not empirical, but a priori. Unlike knowledge about judgments, this is empirical. ((s) Because it is about the meaning of our own expressions and our own use.)
MillikanVsMeaning rationalism.
Main representative: Descartes, Hume, Husserl, Wittgenstein, Quine, Putnam.
I 326
Synonymy/Putnam: thesis: the knowledge of synonymy is also a priori.
Millikan: that is, that should all be armchair contemplation.
I 327
Criterion/Millikan: Problem: if all this should be so secure, there can always be only one criterion for one concept, not several. And all terms may have only one intension, never several, except, these are "logically equivalent".
"Necessary and sufficient" conditions/Millikan: these conditions supposedly do not only distinguish between actual things that fall under one concept and those that do not fall under it but also between all "logically possible" things.
Meaning rationalism/Millikan: thesis: between meaningful and meaningless must be distinguished a priori.
I 328
Error/Millikan: an error can only be there after judgments.
Meaning rationalism/Millikan: E.g. I cannot ask at all myself meaningfully whether my idea of Shakespeare is perhaps not from Shakespeare.
Judgment/Millikan: but judgments cannot be made without applying concepts.
Concept/Millikan: so at least some concepts must stand on their own feet.
Tradition/Millikan: according to it these terms would be those of properties.
Meaning rationalism/Millikan: thesis: all our real concepts are of things with a particular ontological status, namely things that can exist and be known, and yet have no necessary relation to the actual world. E.g. platonic forms or "reified meanings" or "reified possibilities".
NominalismVs: it does not correspond to anything at all.

Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Millikan I
R. G. Millikan
Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories: New Foundations for Realism Cambridge 1987

Millikan II
Ruth Millikan
"Varieties of Purposive Behavior", in: Anthropomorphism, Anecdotes, and Animals, R. W. Mitchell, N. S. Thomspon and H. L. Miles (Eds.) Albany 1997, pp. 189-1967
Der Geist der Tiere, D Perler/M. Wild, Frankfurt/M. 2005

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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2022-05-25
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