Coherence, Explanation, and Bayesian Networks

  • David H. Glass
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 2464)


This paper discusses the relevance of coherence to deciding between competing explanations. It provides a basic definition of coherence in probabilistic terms, which yields a coherence measure and can easily be extended from the coherence of two beliefs to the coherence of n beliefs. Using this definition, the coherence of a set of beliefs can be obtained by making simple extensions to a Bayesian network. The basic definition suggests a strategy for revising beliefs since a decision to reject a belief can be based on maximising the coherence of the remaining beliefs. It is also argued that coherence can provide a suitable approach for inference to the best explanation.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Harman, G.: Change in view: Principles of reasoning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press (1986).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Lipton, P.: Inference to the Best Explanation. London: Routledge (1991).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lycan, W.: Judgement and Justification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1988).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Josephson, J.R.: Josephson S.G.:Abductive Inference: Computation, philosophy, technology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1994).MATHGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Thagard, P.: Explanatory Coherence. Behavioural and Brain Sciences 12 435–467 (1989).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Thagard, P.: Probabilistic Networks and Explanatory Coherence. Cognitive Science Quarterly 1 93–116 (2000).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Neapolitan, R.: Probabilistic Reasoning in Expert Systems, New York: John Wiley (1990).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Pearl, J.: Probabilistic Reasoning in Intelligent Systems, San Mateo: Morgan Kaufman (1988).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bovens, L., Olsson, E.J.: Coherentism, Reliability and Bayesian Networks, Mind 109 685–719 (2000).CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bovens, L., Hartmann, S.: Coherence, Belief Expansion and Bayesian Networks, Proceedings of the 8th International Workshop on Non-Monotonic Reasoning, NMR’2000 Breckenridge, Colorado, USA, April 9–11, (2000).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Glass, D.H.: A Probabilistic Account of Coherence, Proceedings of the International Conference on AI, IC-AI’2002 Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, June 24–27, (2002).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    McSherry, D.: Sequential Diagnosis in the Independence Bayesian Framework, in D. Bustard, W. Liu, R Sterritt (Eds.) Soft-Ware 2002:Computing in an Imperfect Word, 217–231, Springer (2002).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David H. Glass
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of InformaticsUniversity of UlsterNewtownabbeyUK

Personalised recommendations