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Lecture 4

Lecture 4 - Davidson's coherentism

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University of Ottawa
Patrice Philie

Sept. 19, 2013 Introduction: An Argument in 4 Stages Donald Davidson A Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge  Explicit goal: showing that belief is veridical by nature  Principal goal: providing an answer to the skeptic  At least 4 stages in the argument The 4 stages in Davidson’s argument 1. The coherentist theory of justification 2. True beliefs of a person constitute knowledge 3. Most of a person’s beliefs are true 4. Belief is intrinsically veridical FIRST STAGE: Coherentist Theory of Justification Definition of the coherentist theory of justification: Only a belief can justify another belief The schema of the argument backing up this thesis 1. If the thesis is false, then beliefs are justified by something else 2. Only other plausible candidate: intermediaries 3. Postulating intermediaries does not work 4. Therefore, only a belief can justify another belief A quick and dirty formalization This argument is an instance of mollus tollens: 1. –C  I 2. –I 3. Therefore, C SECOND STAGE: The nature of true beliefs Nature of true beliefs  Knowledge = justified true belief  Our beliefs are justified, because they’re coherent  Therefore, our true beliefs constitute knowledge Overall argument not finished Important to note that the argument is not finished:  We want: to show that our beliefs are true and justified  We have: - established that only a belief can justify another belief -established that our true beliefs constitute knowledge  We have not: established that our beliefs are true THIRD STAGE: Most of a person’s beliefs are true Objective of the third stage  Strictly speaking
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