Against Coherence: Truth, Probability, and Justification by Erik J. Olsson

By Erik J. Olsson

It really is tempting to imagine that, if a person's ideals are coherent, also they are more likely to be real. This fact conduciveness declare is the cornerstone of the preferred coherence thought of data and justification. Erik Olsson's new publication is the main large and targeted learn of coherence and possible fact so far. atmosphere new criteria of precision and readability, Olsson argues that the worth of coherence has been largely overvalued. Provocative and readable, opposed to Coherence will make stimulating examining for epistemologists and somebody with a significant curiosity truthfully.

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Surely we need such a guide only if we cannot decide the matter without it. If a reported proposition is internally contradictory, then we know that it cannot be true, and we know that any system to which it belongs cannot be true as a whole. Hence we have no need for coherence as a guide to truth. This shows that the real issue is whether coherence implies truth for noncontradictory systems. The coherence theorist claims that it does. She can claim this and at the same time consistently maintain that the system S is coherent, although pathological because of the internal inconsistencies involved.

The restriction to finite systems is no real limitation, since any given person can only receive a finite number of testimonies. Returning now to BonJour, if one looks at his theory from an abstract point of view, the systems he is concerned with, and to which he suggests the concept of coherence be applied, are, without exception, testimonial systems in my sense. First of all, he assumes that coherence can be assessed relative to the belief system of a given person. Important here is the Doxastic Presumption saying that the enquirer may take her believing this and that as bona fide facts, that is, as something that is not under dispute (1985: 101–6).

As an effect of the increased probability of reliability, we also become more confident that what the reports say is true. Needless to say, none of this should be taken to imply that there is a need to revise the prior probability of the reliability hypothesis because of congruence. A low antecedent probability of reliability is consistent with a high posterior probability of reliability. Given no evidence, the chance that the reports are reliable may be low, but once the different reports come in, the probability of reliability may, in the light of their agreement, become much higher than it was before.

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