Work in progress by Matteo Baggio

Bergen Logic Seminar: Epistemic Overdetermination Strikes Back: A New Hope for the A Priori


Epistemic Overdetermination Strikes Back. A New Hope for the A Priori


Recent work in the epistemology of logic has taken an empiricist turn in the understanding of its subject matter. Two key Quinean intuitions have been embraced by logical anti-exceptionalists: that i) logical theorizing is non-exceptional – not special – and contiguous to science; ii) that logical theories are justified and adopted via abductive methodology (e.g., inference to the best explanation), which in turn is based on scientifically constrained premises that concern theoretical virtues. I argue that an indispensable feature of this methodology cannot be coherently accounted by anti-exceptionalists: epistemic overdetermination, i.e., the phenomenon according to which the same logical claim can be justified on the basis of multiple sources of evidence, including both a priori and a posteriori ones. I contend that logical anti-exceptionalist should either revise their epistemic framework to allow for a defeasible notion of a priori justification or avoid relying on a priori evidence altogether. However, each of these strategies has its own drawbacks: anti-exceptionalists about logic can account for epistemic overdetermination – and, consequently, for an empiricist epistemology of logic – only if they either recognize that logic can be a priori justified, or they admit the implausible claim that some crucial criteria underlying the inference to the best explanation should be abandoned, e.g., the adequacy to the data criterion.