A Priori Assumption Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of A Priori Assumption, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is A Priori Assumption?

n. a priori is a latin phrase, meaning “from the former”. A-priori-assumption denotes propositional knowledge; something that comes beforehand without experience; something that is assumed to be true. The opposite is a posteriori assumption.

History and Meaning of A Priori Assumption

The concept of a priori assumption has its roots in classical philosophy, particularly the work of Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher of the 18th century. In his "Critique of Pure Reason," he distinguished between a priori and a posteriori knowledge, stating that the former is independent of experience while the latter is gained through experience. A priori assumptions are considered innate or self-evident, meaning they do not require any empirical evidence for validation. This concept has been utilized across philosophy, logic, mathematics, and various other disciplines to distinguish between what can be known without experience and what requires it.

A priori assumption refers to knowledge or beliefs held before any empirical investigation, sometimes also referred to as "presuppositions" or "axioms." These assumptions are believed to be true without needing any supporting evidence or observation. In contrast, an a posteriori assumption relies on empirical evidence gained from experience or observation to validate its truth.

Examples of A Priori Assumption

  1. Mathematical truths, such as the Pythagorean theorem, are considered a priori assumptions as they do not require any empirical evidence to demonstrate their validity.

  2. The belief in the existence of an external, objective reality independent of our perceptions can be considered as an a priori assumption since it is held without any observable evidence.

  3. The statement “all bachelors are unmarried” contains an a priori assumption because it is accepted as true by definition, without requiring any experience or evidence.

  4. Ethical principles, like Kant's famous Categorical Imperative, can be seen as examples of a priori assumptions. This philosophical rule states that one should act only according to that maxim whereby one can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law; this rule, according to Kant, can be deduced through reason alone, without empirical evidence.

  5. The assumption that time and space are necessary for understanding and organizing experiences is an a priori assumption because it is not based on empirical observation, but rather on logical necessity.

Legal Terms Similar to A Priori Assumption

  1. Axiom
  2. Presupposition
  3. Self-evident truth
  4. Rationalism
  5. Deductive reasoning