Access

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

Solving the Riddle of Coherence

Luc Bovens and Stephan Hartmann
Mind
New Series, Vol. 112, No. 448 (Oct., 2003), pp. 601-633
Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the Mind Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3489040
Page Count: 33
  • Download ($42.00)
  • Cite this Item
Solving the Riddle of Coherence
Preview not available

Abstract

A coherent story is a story that fits together well. This notion plays a central role in the coherence theory of justification and has been proposed as a criterion for scientific theory choice. Many attempts have been made to give a probabilistic account of this notion. A proper account of coherence must not start from some partial intuitions, but should pay attention to the role that this notion is supposed to play within a particular context. Coherence is a property of an information set that boosts our confidence that its content is true ceteris paribus when we receive information from independent and partially reliable sources. We construct a measure cr that relies on hypothetical sources with certain idealized characteristics. A maximally coherent information set, that is, a set with equivalent propositions, affords a maximal confidence boost. cr is the ratio of the actual confidence boost over the confidence boost that we would have received, had the information been presented in the form of maximally coherent information, ceteris paribus. This measure is functionally dependent on the degree of reliability r of the sources. We use cr to construct a coherence quasi-ordering over information sets S and S′: S is no less coherent than S′ just in case cr( S) is not smaller than cr( S) for any value of the reliability parameter. We show that, on our account, the coherence of the story about the world gives us a reason to believe that the story is true and that the coherence of a scientific theory, construed as a set of models, is a proper criterion for theory choice.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
[601]
    [601]
  • Thumbnail: Page 
602
    602
  • Thumbnail: Page 
603
    603
  • Thumbnail: Page 
604
    604
  • Thumbnail: Page 
605
    605
  • Thumbnail: Page 
606
    606
  • Thumbnail: Page 
607
    607
  • Thumbnail: Page 
608
    608
  • Thumbnail: Page 
609
    609
  • Thumbnail: Page 
610
    610
  • Thumbnail: Page 
611
    611
  • Thumbnail: Page 
612
    612
  • Thumbnail: Page 
613
    613
  • Thumbnail: Page 
614
    614
  • Thumbnail: Page 
615
    615
  • Thumbnail: Page 
616
    616
  • Thumbnail: Page 
617
    617
  • Thumbnail: Page 
618
    618
  • Thumbnail: Page 
619
    619
  • Thumbnail: Page 
620
    620
  • Thumbnail: Page 
621
    621
  • Thumbnail: Page 
622
    622
  • Thumbnail: Page 
623
    623
  • Thumbnail: Page 
624
    624
  • Thumbnail: Page 
625
    625
  • Thumbnail: Page 
626
    626
  • Thumbnail: Page 
627
    627
  • Thumbnail: Page 
628
    628
  • Thumbnail: Page 
629
    629
  • Thumbnail: Page 
630
    630
  • Thumbnail: Page 
631
    631
  • Thumbnail: Page 
632
    632
  • Thumbnail: Page 
633
    633