Chapter

BonJourian Coherentism

Alvin Plantinga

in Warrant: The Current Debate

Published in print July 1993 | ISBN: 9780195078626
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833559 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0195078624.003.0005
BonJourian Coherentism

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In this chapter, I explain and critically examine Laurence BonJour's version of coherentism, as presented in his The Structure of Empirical Knowledge. Speaking roughly, BonJour holds that an empirical belief has warrant only if it is an element in a system of beliefs that is coherent in the long run. Somewhat less roughly, BonJour holds that an empirical belief B has warrant for a person S if and only if S has a reason for thinking B to be true; and that reason, on BonJour's view, can only be the conjunction of (1) B being a member of S's system of beliefs, and that system is coherent (in the long run) and (2) if B is a member of S's system of beliefs and S's system of beliefs has been coherent for a sufficiently long run, then B is likely to be true. After explaining BonJour's coherentism, I comment on two interesting facets of BonJour's thought: (1) his relationship to classical foundationalism and his trust in reason, and (2) the success of his argument for a coherentist justification of empirical belief. Finally, and most importantly for the larger purpose of my book, I consider his conception of warrant, concluding that BonJourian coherence is neither sufficient nor necessary for warrant.

Keywords: BonJour; classical foundationalism; coherentism; reason; The Structure of Empirical Knowledge; warrant

Chapter.  14708 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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