Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Quentin Smith

Second Advisor

Michael Pritchard

Third Advisor

Sylvia Culp

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Campus Only


Normally, epistemologists have studied our capacity to know, or even whether we know anything at all, by using only one definition of knowledge to be applied to all our beliefs, empirical and a priori beliefs alike. We shall argue that in order to properly define knowledge, we need to use two definitions, one to describe a priori knowledge and another to do the same with respect to our empirical knowledge.

As we shall see, Foundational and Coherentists epistemic theories alike, as exemplified by Chisolm, Moser, Lehrer and BonJours' theories, are deeply inconsistent precisely because they do not recognize the need for two distinct definitions of knowledge. We shall also show that if they would agree with us in that two definitions of knowledge are needed, then most if not all of the inconsistencies we will uncover in their theories simply vanish.

To put it as simply as we can, we shall argue that a priori knowledge is best defined as "correctly justified true belief' and that empirical knowledge is best defined as "justified belief with which we assume that we have obtained truth" (the complete definition of empirical knowledge is presented in Chapter III).

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