Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 5, pp 1091–1104 | Cite as

Propositional apriority and the nesting problem

  • Jens KipperEmail author


According to the modal account of propositional apriority, a proposition is a priori if it is possible to know it with a priori justification. Assuming that modal truths are necessarily true and that there are contingent a priori truths, this account has the undesirable consequence that a proposition can be a priori in a world in which it is false. Epistemic two-dimensionalism faces the same problem, since on its standard interpretation, it also entails that a priori propositions are necessarily a priori. In response to this problem, Chalmers and Rabern propose an alternative conception of propositional apriority as well as two-dimensional truth-conditions for apriority statements. Their proposal is also supposed to avoid another problem for the modal account, namely that it entails the existence of false instances of ‘φ iff actually φ’. I discuss Chalmers and Rabern’s account and point out a number of problems with it. I then develop my own account of propositional apriority that solves the problems in question, that can be accepted by friends and foes of two-dimensionalism alike, and that is also neutral with respect to the question of how one construes the objects of propositional apriority.


Apriority Two-dimensional semantics The contingent a priori The nesting problem 



I am grateful for comments and discussions to Alma Barner, David Chalmers, Joachim Horvath, Neil Mehta, Brian Rabern, Zeynep Soysal, and to an anonymous referee for this journal.


While working on this paper, I had a Research Fellowship of the German Research Foundation (DFG).


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics and PhilosophyMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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