Pragmatism, Doubt, and the Role of Incoherence

Erik J. Olsson

in Against Coherence

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780199279999
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602665 | DOI:
Pragmatism, Doubt, and the Role of Incoherence

Show Summary Details


The issue is raised whether there is a satisfactory answer to radical skepticism that does not depend on a problematic positive use of coherence. Two kinds of pragmatism are examined form this point of view. A dilemma is raised for the Jamesian variety. Peirce’s response to skepticism is taken to be more compelling. It involves a distinction between real and paper doubt whereby real doubt is typically caused by some sort of incoherence. No such incoherence ensues from contemplating skeptical scenarios. The discussion sheds unexpected light on the role of coherence in epistemology: coherence may not suffice to justify our beliefs, but incoherence is what forces us to give them up.

Keywords: Charles Saunders Peirce; doubt; incoherence; pragmatism; radical skepticism; role of coherence in epistemology; William James

Chapter.  12961 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.