Erkenntnis

, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 817–851 | Cite as

The Problem of Coherence and Truth Redux

Original Article
  • 338 Downloads

Abstract

In “What price coherence?” (Analysis 54:129–132, 1994), Klein and Warfield put forward a simple argument that triggered an extensive debate on the epistemic virtues of coherence. As is well-known, this debate yielded far-reaching impossibility results to the effect that coherence is not conducive to truth, even if construed in a ceteris paribus sense. A large part of the present paper is devoted to a re-evaluation of these results. As is argued, all explications of truth-conduciveness leave out an important aspect: while it might not be the case that coherence is truth-conducive, it might be conducive to verisimilitude or epistemic utility. Unfortunately, it is shown that the answer for both these issues must be in the negative, again. Furthermore, we shift the focus from sets of beliefs to particular beliefs: as is shown, neither is any of the extant probabilistic measures of coherence truth-conducive on the level of particular beliefs, nor does weakening these measures to quasi-orderings establish the link between coherence and truth for an important amount of measures. All in all, the results in this paper cast a serious doubt on the approach of establishing a link between coherence and truth. Finally, recent arguments that shift the focus from the relationship between coherence and truth to the one between coherence and confirmation are assessed.

References

  1. Akiba, K. (2000). Shogenji’s probabilistic measure of coherence is incoherent. Analysis, 60, 356–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. BonJour, L. (1976). The coherence theory of empirical knowledge. Philosophical Studies, 30, 281–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. BonJour, L. (1985). The structure of empirical knowledge. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  4. BonJour, L. (1999). The dialectic of foundationalism and coherentism. In J. Greco & E. Sosa (Eds.), The blackwell guide to epistemology. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  5. Bovens, L., & Hartmann, S. (2003). Bayesian epistemology. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bovens, L., & Hartmann, S. (2005). Why there cannot be a single probabilistic measure of coherence. Erkenntnis, 63, 361–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bovens, L., & Hartmann, S. (2006). An impossibility result for coherence rankings. Philosophical Studies, 128, 77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bovens, L., & Olsson, E. J. (2002). Believing more, risking less: On coherence, truth and non-trivial extensions. Erkenntnis, 57, 137–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brössel, P. (2015). Keynes’s coefficient of dependence. Erkenntnis. doi:10.1007/s10670-014-9672-3.
  10. Brink, C., & Heidema, J. (1987). A verisimilar ordering of theories phrased in a propositional language. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 38, 533–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Carnap, R. (1962). Logical foundations of probability. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Cevolani, G., Crupi, V., & Festa, R. (2010). The whole truth about Linda: Probability, verisimilitude and a paradox of conjunction. In M. D’Agostino, et al. (Eds.), New essays in logic and philosophy of science (pp. 603–615). London: College Publications.Google Scholar
  13. Cevolani, G., Crupi, V., & Festa, R. (2011). Verisimilitude and belief change for conjunctive theories. Erkenntnis, 75, 183–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cevolani, G., & Tambolo, L. (2013). Progress as approximation to the truth: A defence of the verisimilitudinarian approach. Erkenntnis, 78, 921–935.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Christensen, D. (1999). Measuring confirmation. Journal of Philosophy, 96, 437–461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cross, C. B. (1999). Coherence and truth-conducive justification. Analysis, 59, 186–s193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Crupi, V., Chater, N., & Tentori, K. (2013). New axioms for probability and likelihood ratio measures. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 64, 189–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crupi, V., Tentori, K., & Gonzalez, M. (2007). On Bayesian measures of evidential support: Theoretical and empirical issues. Philosophy of Science, 74, 229–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Douven, I., & Meijs, W. (2007). Measuring coherence. Synthese, 156, 405–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Eells, E., & Fitelson, B. (2000). Measuring confimation and evidence. Journal of Philosophy, 97, 663–672.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Festa, R. (2012). For unto every one that hath shall be given. Matthew properties for incremental confirmation. Synthese, 184, 89–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fitelson, B. (2003). A probabilistic theory of coherence. Analysis, 63, 194–199.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fitelson, B. (2004). Two technical corrections to my coherence measure. http://www.fitelson.org/coherence2.
  24. Gemes, K. (2007). Verisimilitude and content. Synthese, 154, 293–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Glass, D. H. (2002). Coherence, explanation, and Bayesian networks. In M. ONeill, et al. (Eds.), AICS 2002, LNAI 2464 (pp. 177–182), Berlin.Google Scholar
  26. Glass, D. H. (2005). Problems with priors in probabilistic measures of coherence. Erkenntnis, 63, 375–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Good, I. J. (1984). The best explicatum for weight of evidence. Journal of Statistical Computation and Simulation, 19, 294–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harman, G. (1986). Change in view. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hartmann, S. (2008). Modeling in philosophy of science. In M. Frauchiger & W. K. Essler (Eds.), Representation, evidence, and justification: Themes from Suppes (Lauener Library of Analytical Philosophy, vol. 1) (pp. 95–121). Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.Google Scholar
  30. Hempel, C. G. (1960). Inductive inconsistencies. Synthese, 12, 439–469.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Howson, C., & Urbach, P. (2006). Scientific reasoning. The Bayesian approach (3rd ed.). Chicago: Open Court.Google Scholar
  32. Kass, R. E., & Raftery, A. E. (1995). Bayes factors. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 90, 773–795.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keynes, J. M. (1921). A treatise on probability. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  34. Kemeny, J., & Oppenheim, P. (1952). Degrees of factual support. Philosophy of Science, 19, 307–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Klein, P., & Warfield, T. A. (1994). What price coherence? Analysis, 54, 129–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Koscholke, J. (2015). Last measure standing. Evaluating test cases for probabilistic coherence measures. Erkenntnis. doi:10.1007/s10670-015-9734-1.
  37. Kuipers, T. A. F. (1982). Approaching descriptive and theoretical truth. Erkenntnis, 18, 343–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Levi, I. (1967). Gambling with truth. New York: A. A. Knopf.Google Scholar
  39. Meijs, W. (2005). Probabilistic measures of coherence. PhD thesis, Erasmus University, Rotterdam.Google Scholar
  40. Meijs, W. (2006). Coherence as generalized logical equivalence. Erkenntnis, 64, 231–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Meijs, W. (2007). A corrective to Bovens and Hartmann’s measure of coherence. Philosophical Studies, 133, 151–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Meijs, W., & Douven, I. (2007). On the alleged impossibility of coherence. Synthese, 157, 347–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Merricks, T. (1995). On behalf of the coherentist. Analysis, 55, 306–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Miller, D. (1974). Popper’s qualitative theory of verisimilitude. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 25, 166–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mortimer, H. (1988). The logic of induction. Paramus: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  46. Niiniluoto, I. (1987). Truthlikeness. Dordrecht: Reidel.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nozick, R. (1981). Philosophical Explanations. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  48. Oddie, G. (1986). Likeness to truth. Dordrecht: Reidel.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Olsson, E. J. (2001). Why coherence is not truth-conducive. Analysis, 61, 236–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Olsson, E. J. (2002). What is the problem of coherence and truth? The Journal of Philosophy, 99, 246–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Olsson, E. J. (2005a). Against coherence. Truth, probability, and justification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Olsson, E. J. (2005b). The impossibility of coherence. Erkenntnis, 63, 387–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Olsson, E. J., & Schubert, S. (2007). Reliability conducive measures of coherence. Synthese, 157, 297–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pearl, J. (2000). Causality: Models, reasoning, and inference. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  55. Popper, K. R. (1963). Conjectures and refutations. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  56. Popper, K. R. (1968). The logic of scientific discovery. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  57. Roche, W. (2013). Coherence and probability. A probabilistic account of coherence. In M. Araszkiewicz & J. Savelka (Eds.), Coherence: Insights from philosophy, jurisprudence and artificial intelligence (pp. 59–91). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schippers, M. (2014a). Probabilistic measures of coherence. From adequacy constraints towards pluralism. Synthese, 191, 3821–3845.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schippers, M. (2014b). Structural properties of qualitative and quantitative accounts to coherence. The Review of Symbolic Logic, 7, 579–598.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Schippers, M. (2014c). Coherence, striking agreement, and reliability. On a putative vindication of the Shogenji measure. Synthese, 191, 3661–3684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Schippers, M. (2014d). On the impossibility of measuring coherence. Manuscript.Google Scholar
  62. Schippers, M. (2015a). Towards a grammar of Bayesian coherentism. Studia Logica, 103, 955–984. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Schippers, M. (2015b). Coherence and (likeness to) truth. In Mäki, Ruphy, Schurz & Votsis (Eds.), Recent developments in the philosophy of science: EPSA13 Helsinki.Google Scholar
  64. Schubert, S. (2012a). Is coherence conducive to reliability? Synthese, 187, 607–621.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schubert, S. (2012b). Coherence reasoning and reliability: A defense of the Shogenji measure. Synthese, 187, 305–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Schupbach, J. N. (2008). On the alleged impossibility of Bayesian coherentism. Philosophical Studies, 41, 323–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Schupbach, J. N. (2011). New hope for Shogenji’s coherence measure. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 62, 125–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Schurz, G., & Weingartner, P. (1987). Verisimilitude defined by relevant consequence elements. In T. Kuipers (Ed.), What is closer-to-the-truth? (pp. 47–77). Amsterdam: Rodopi.Google Scholar
  69. Schurz, G., & Weingartner, P. (2010). Zwart and Franssen’s impossibility theorem holds for possible-world-accounts but not for consequence-accounts to verisimilitude. Synthese, 172, 415–436.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Shogenji, T. (1999). Is coherence truth conducive? Analysis, 59, 338–345.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Shogenji, T. (2013). The degree of epistemic justification and the conjunction fallacy. Synthese, 184, 29–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Siebel, M. (2005). Against probabilistic measures of coherence. Erkenntnis, 63, 335–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Siebel, M., & Wolff, W. (2008). Equivalent testimonies as a touchstone for coherence measures. Synthese, 161, 167–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Tichý, P. (1974). On Popper’s definition of verisimilitude. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 25, 155–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wheeler, G. (2009). Focused correlation and confirmation. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 60, 70–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Wheeler, G. (2012). Explaining the limits of Olsson’s impossibility result. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 50, 136–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Wheeler, G., & Scheines, R. (2013). Coherence and confirmation through causation. Mind, 122, 135–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of OldenburgOldenburgGermany

Personalised recommendations