Coherence in Epistemology and Belief Revision*

Hansson, Sven
March 2006
Philosophical Studies;Mar2006, Vol. 128 Issue 1, p93
Academic Journal
A general theory of coherence is proposed, in which systemic and relational coherence are shown to be interdefinable. When this theory is applied to sets of sentences, it turns out that logical closure obscures the distinctions that are needed for a meaningful analysis of coherence. It is concluded that references to “all beliefs” in coherentist phrases such as “all beliefs support each other” have to be modified so that merely derived beliefs are excluded. Therefore, in order to avoid absurd conclusions, coherentists have to accept a weak version of epistemic priority, that sorts out merely derived beliefs. Furthermore, it is shown that in belief revision theory, coherence cannot be adequately represented by logical closure, but has to be represented separately.


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