Title

Analyticity, Platonism, and A Priori Knowledge

Date of Award

2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

Advisor(s)

Andre Gallois

Second Advisor

Mark Brown

Third Advisor

Mark Heller

Keywords

Analyticity, A priori knowledge, Knowledge, Logic, Platonism

Subject Categories

Philosophy

Abstract

In this dissertation, I defend a view that combines an analytic conception of a priori knowledge with a version of reliabilist platonism. Roughly put, the analytic theory is the view that our a priori knowledge can be explained by our grasp of analytic truths. Platonism is the view that there are abstract objects and those objects are partly responsible for some of our knowledge. My primary goal is to show that the hybrid account I develop solves central problems that arise for the analytic view and platonism on their own. One well-known difficulty facing platonism is the following epistemological concern: given that abstracta are causally inefficacious, it is unclear how we can ever come to know anything about them. I argue that platonism on its own cannot adequately address this problem. Likewise, there is the following serious difficulty for the analytic theory: given the central role of implicit definitions for the analytic theory, if there are good reasons to doubt the unqualified success of such stipulations, it seems that the analytic theory fails to explain our a priori knowledge. I also show that this is a serious problem for the analytic theory. However, I show how a combination of the analytic theory and platonism can address both sets of difficulties: one view makes up for the shortcomings of the other. On the one hand, reliabilist platonism helps explain the success of the relevant stipulations; on the other hand, the analytic theory helps show why the causal inefficacy of abstracta is not a problem for our a priori knowledge.

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