Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ When is a Concept A Priori?

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Some things, we are told, just mean what they mean. The concept of a 'square', for example (four sides of equal length at right angles) doesn't depend on our actual experience of a square. It just is what it is. But what about more concrete concepts, like, say, ethics? People objected to Philippa Foot's argument that 'the grounding of a moral argument is ultimately in facts about human life' because, they said, "moral knowledge, like logical and mathematical knowledge, (is) supposed to be a priori." What about taxonomies and natural kinds, like 'human'? Isn't a 'human' a human by definition? I think that like Foot's critics we take a lot of supposedly a priori concepts for granted, when really, they reflect experiences, culture, or nature. That's what this paper (17 page PDF) discusses.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jul 24, 2024 2:01 p.m.

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