Philosophical Studies

, Volume 142, Issue 3, pp 403–426

Naturalism, fallibilism, and the a priori


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-007-9194-9

Cite this article as:
Warenski, L. Philos Stud (2009) 142: 403. doi:10.1007/s11098-007-9194-9


This paper argues that a priori justification is, in principle, compatible with naturalism—if the a priori is understood in a way that is free of the inessential properties that, historically, have been associated with the concept. I argue that empirical indefeasibility is essential to the primary notion of the a priori; however, the indefeasibility requirement should be interpreted in such a way that we can be fallibilist about apriori-justified claims. This fallibilist notion of the a priori accords with the naturalist’s commitment to scientific methodology in that it allows for apriori-justified claims to be sensitive to further conceptual developments and the expansion of evidence. The fallibilist apriorist allows that an a priori claim is revisable in only a purely epistemic sense. This modal claim is weaker than what is required for a revisability thesis to establish empiricism, so fallibilist apriorism represents a distinct position.


NaturalismFallibilismA prioriEpistemic possibility

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.PhilosophyUnion CollegeSchenectadyUSA