Deficiency arguments against empiricism and the question of empirical indefeasibility

Research paper by Lisa Warenski

Indexed on: 13 May '16Published on: 30 Oct '15Published in: Philosophical Studies


I give a brief overview of Albert Casullo’s Essays on A Priori Knowledge and Justification (2012), followed by a summary of his diagnostic framework for evaluating accounts of a priori knowledge and a priori justification. I then discuss Casullo’s strategy for countering deficiency arguments against empiricism. A deficiency argument against empiricism can be countered by mounting a parallel argument against moderate rationalism that shows moderate rationalism to be defective in a similar way. I argue that a particular deficiency argument put forth by George Bealer in “The Incoherence of Empiricism” (1992) can withstand a parallel challenge mounted by Casullo (2012, Ch.6).I then consider Casullo’s preferred analysis of the concept of a priori justification, which identifies a belief’s being justified by some nonexperiential source as the feature by virtue of which it is justified a priori. On the analysis, an apriori-justfied belief that is justified to a degree that is sufficient for knowledge is not taken to be empirically indefeasible. I argue that Casullo could avail himself of an empirical indefeasibility requirement that is consistent with his minimal and fallibilist conception of a priori knowledge. Doing so would capture a feature of the concept of a priori knowledge that is of particular interest and significance.