In defense of extreme (fallibilistic) apriorism

Journal of Libertarian Studies 12 (1):179–192 (1996)
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Abstract

We presuppose a position of scientific realism to the effect (i) that the world exists and (ii) that through the working out of ever more sophisticated theories our scientific picture of reality will approximate ever more closely to the world as it really is. Against this background consider, now, the following question: 1. Do the empirical theories with the help of which we seek to approximate a good or true picture of reality rest on any non-empirical presuppositions? One can answer this question with either a 'yes' or a 'no'. 'No' is the preferred answer of most contemporary methodologists -- Murray Rothbard is one distinguished counterexample to this trend -- who maintain that empirical theories are completely free of non-empirical ('a priori') admixtures and who see science as a matter of the gathering of pure 'data' obtained through simple observation. From such data scientific propositions are then supposed to be somehow capable of being established.

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Barry Smith
State University of New York, Buffalo

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