Knowledge and Coherence

Paul Thagard, Chris Eliasmith, Paul Rusnock and Cameron Shelley

in Common Sense, Reasoning, and Rationality

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780195147667
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785865 | DOI:

Series: New Directions in Cognitive Science (formerly Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science)

 Knowledge and Coherence

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This chapter shows how epistemic coherence can be understood in terms of maximization of constraint satisfaction, in keeping with computational models that have had a substantial impact in cognitive science. It is shown how explanatory coherence subsumes Haack's recent “foundherentist” theory of knowledge. An account of deductive coherence is provided, showing how the selection of mathematical axioms can be understood as a constraint satisfaction problem. Visual interpretation can also be understood in terms of satisfaction of multiple constraints. After a brief account of how conceptual coherence can also be understood in terms of constraint satisfaction, the chapter concludes with a discussion of how the “multicoherence” theory of knowledge avoids many criticisms traditionally made of coherentism.

Keywords: epistemic coherence; constraint satisfaction; deductive coherence; visual interpretation; conceptual coherence; multicoherence

Chapter.  11356 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Metaphysics

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