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Lecture 16

Lecture 16 - Coherence theory

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University of Ottawa
Daniel Kofman

Nov. 7, 2013 1. How can a coherence theory even by plausible? Isn’t a belief justified if it gets the facts right? Otto Neurath: the raft metaphor – you can never do what Descartes purports to do (general demolition of beliefs). All we can do is modify some beliefs by keeping the rest of them intact. You’re cognitively encountering beliefs about sense perceptions. 2. Coherence theories of truth -Radical - what actually makes a belief true or false, is whether or not it coheres with other beliefs -others beliefs are the only thing you can compare a belief to Coherence theories of justification -how our beliefs hang together in terms of their justifications -a belief is justified if it coheres with the rest of my beliefs Degrees of coherence -strong coherence -more or less coherent Ideal coherence 3. Recapitulation of objections to foundationalism 3.1 Denial of atomism. Coherence theories are holist (evaluating individual members of their relation to the whole set). 3.2 Denial of incorrigibility of self-evident beliefs (Wittgenstein, Sellars) 3.3 1. Denial that inferences from self-evident beliefs are infallible 3.3 2. Questioning the soundness of foundationalist strategy given 3.3.1 If inferences from “foundational” beliefs are fallible. Why should there have to be foundational ones that are infallible? 4. How would coherentism answer skeptic? 4.1 Argument from error: Coherence theory of truth – if individual beliefs are “true” according to how well they cohere with the entire set of beliefs, occasional false beliefs do not threaten the entire belief system so long as most beliefs mutually cohere. To have false belief just is to have a belief that does not cohere with the r
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