, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 387-412
Date: 14 Apr 2006

The Impossibility of Coherence

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Abstract

There is an emerging consensus in the literature on probabilistic coherence that such coherence cannot be truth conducive unless the information sources providing the cohering information are individually credible and collectively independent. Furthermore, coherence can at best be truth conducive in a ceteris paribus sense. Bovens and Hartmann have argued that there cannot be any measure of coherence that is truth conducive even in this very weak sense. In this paper, I give an alternative impossibility proof. I provide a relatively detailed comparison of the two results, which turn out to be logically unrelated, and argue that my result answers a question raised by Bovens and Hartmann’s study. Finally, I discuss the epistemological ramifications of these findings and try to make plausible that a shift to an explanatory framework such as Thagard’s is unlikely to turn the impossibility into a possibility.