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In Defense of Pure Reason
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  • Page extent: 248 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.32 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 121/.3
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: BD181 .B64 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Rationalism
    • Justification (Theory of knowledge)
    • A priori

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521597456 | ISBN-10: 0521597455)

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$32.99 (G)

This book is concerned with the alleged capacity of the human mind to arrive at beliefs and knowledge about the world on the basis of pure reason without any dependence on sensory experience. Most recent philosophers reject the view and argue that all substantive knowledge must be sensory in origin. Laurence BonJour provocatively reopens the debate by presenting the most comprehensive exposition and defense of the rationalist view that a priori insight is a genuine basis for knowledge.


1. Introduction: the problem of a priori justification; 2. In search of moderate empiricism; 3. Quine and radical empiricism; 4. A moderate rationalism; 5. Epistemological objections to rationalism; 6. Metaphysical objections to rationalism; 7. The justification of induction; Appendix: non-Euclidean geometry and relativity.


"...after reading his book we have a much better idea of the direction in which those answers must lie." Mylan Engel, Jr., Dialogue

"This book is an important contribution to the contemporary epistemological literature. The book is tightly organized, crisply argued, and sets the standard against which competing accounts must be measured. BonJour's book is rich and challenging...much can be learned from this book. It is required reading for anyserious student of the field and I entusiastically recommend it to nonspecialists as well." The Philosophical Review

"This work contains interesting criticisms of and rebuttals to opponents of rationalism. In addition it contains a bold, heady, imaginative positive account of pure reason. BonJour's bold answer consists of outlining and arguing for a theory of mental content that is nonrepresentational and at once both externalist as well as internalist. His imaginative conjecture is in the spirit of historic forms of rationalism: it is Aristotelian and Thomistic, in that the intellect in knowing necessary truths is in a sense all things; it is Hegelian in that the project critically argues for the coincidence of the real and the rational." Review of Meta Physics

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