The a priori defended: a defense of the generality argument

Research paper by Joshua C. Thurow

Indexed on: 05 Aug '08Published on: 05 Aug '08Published in: Philosophical Studies


One of Laurence BonJour’s main arguments for the existence of the a priori is an argument that a priori justification is indispensable for making inferences from experience to conclusions that go beyond experience. This argument has recently come under heavy fire from Albert Casullo, who has dubbed BonJour’s argument, “The Generality Argument.” In this paper I (i) defend the Generality Argument against Casullo’s criticisms, and (ii) develop a new, more plausible, version of the Generality Argument in response to some other objections of my own. Two of these objections stem out of BonJour’s failing to fully consider the importance of the distinction between being justified in believing that an inference is good and being justified in making an inference. The final version of the argument that I develop sees the Generality Argument as one part of a cumulative case argument for the existence of a priori justification, rather than as a stand-alone knock-down argument.