Internal Coherentism

Robert J. Fogelin

in Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification

Published in print December 1994 | ISBN: 9780195089875
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833238 | DOI:
Internal Coherentism

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Coherentists attempt to solve the problem of infinite regress by rejecting what they sometimes call “the linear conception of knowledge.” Coherentists adopt, instead, a holistic conception of justification. This chapter examines BonJour's efforts to develop a coherentist account of empirical knowledge. BonJour faces two tasks: the first is to specify the conditions for a system of beliefs to be coherent, the second is to provide an argument showing that a system possessing these features provides justification for the beliefs it contains. To be coherent, according to BonJour, a system must be both logically and probabilistically consistent, be rich in inferential connections, not be divided into isolated subsystems, and be free of anomalies. Finally, to be justified in believing something, a person must be able recognize that his belief has this status in his system of beliefs. This position is criticized on a number of grounds. It seems to have the consequence that no human being has ever been justified in any of his empirical beliefs. Nothing seems to rule out the multiple‐choice problem of there being two equally coherent but incompatible systems of belief.

Keywords: BonJour; coherentism; consistency; holism; inferential connection; skepticism

Chapter.  9699 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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