Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-17, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 2 January, 2017 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2017.


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core definition

Apriorism is a philosophical position that contends that the mind has innate ideas and that it is possible to have knowledge independent of experience..

explanatory context

Apriorism is opposed to empiricism.

For an extensive analysis of different forms of apriorism see the essay On Praxeology and the Question of Aristotelian Apriorism by Geoffrey Allan Plauche, dated 9 March 2006 (link in references)

analytical review Agnosticism/Atheism (2011) states:

The doctrine of apriorism argues that argues that the human mind naturally possess a number of innate ideas and concepts which were not arrived at through experience or sense perception. Apriorism is contrasted with strict empiricism.

Philosophy professor (undated) claims:

Apart from its popular meaning of dogmatism, apriorism is an alternative - though less common - term for rationalism in its philosophical senses; that is the views that there are a priori concepts, or substantive a priori truths, or both.


Smith (undated), in discussing Austrian economics notes:

All defenders of apriorism share the assumption that we are capable of acquiring knowledge of a special sort, called "a priori knowledge" via non-inductive means. They differ, however, in their accounts of where such knowledge comes from. Two broad families of apriorist views can be distinguished in this regard.

On the one hand are what might be called impositionist views, which hold that a priori knowledge is possible as a result of the fact that the content of such knowledge reflects merely certain forms or structures that have been imposed or inscribed upon the world by the knowing subject. Knowledge, on such views, is never directly of reality itself; rather, it reflects the "logical structures of the mind," and penetrates to reality only as formed, shaped or modelled by a mind or theory.

On the other hand are reflectionist views, which hold that we can have a priori knowledge of what exists, independently of all impositions or inscriptions of the mind, as a result of the fact that certain structures in the world enjoy some degree of intelligibility in their own right. The knowing subject and the objects of knowledge are for the reflectionist in some sense and to some degree pre-tuned to each other. And directly a priori knowledge of reality itself is therefore possible, at least at some level of generality, much along the lines in which we recognize the validity of a proof in logic or geometry. (see references for a link to the full article)

associated issues


related areas

See also


Sources Agnosticism/Atheism, 2011, Apriorism originally available at , accessed 30 January 2016. Page still accessible but the entry on apriorism is missing, 12 December 2016.

Philosophy Professor, undated, Apriorism originally but no longer available at, accessed 10 July 2011.

Plauche, G.A., 2006, On Praxeology and the Question of Aristotelian Apriorism, March 9, 2006, originally but no longer available at, accessed 10 July 2011.

Smith, B., undated, The question of apriorism, originally but no longer available at, accessed 10 July 2011.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2017

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