De-synthesizing the relative a priori

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This paper considers the question whether the notion of the relative apriori, central to Michael Friedman's transcendentalist programme for philosophy of science, is available also to philosophers who reject appeals to a synthetic a priori. After tracing the rediscovery of the relative a priori and delineating its potential, the question is considered whether Friedman's arguments against Quinean naturalism and Carnap's attenuated logicism tell against a conception of philosophy as scientific metatheory that combines logical and empirical inquiries. Finding an opening here it is argued that this conception can also help itself to the notion of a relative a priori which, it is agreed, is central to historically informed theorising about science. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-17
Number of pages10
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • Logical empiricism, Neokantianism Michael Friedman Synthetic a priori Relative a priori


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