Coherence, First-Personal Deliberation, and Crossword Puzzles

Philosophical Topics (forthcoming)
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What is the place of coherence, or structural rationality, in good first-personal deliberation? According to Kolodny (2005), considerations of coherence are irrelevant to good first-personal deliberation. When we deliberate, we should merely care about the reasons or evidence we have for our attitudes. So, considerations of coherence should not show up in deliberation. In response to this argument, Worsnip (2021) argues that considerations of coherence matter for how we structure deliberation. For him, we should treat incoherent combinations of attitudes as off-limits in deliberation. Some important questions are left unanswered by both camps. What do we mean by considerations of coherence “showing up” in first-personal deliberation? How do we interpret the divide between reasons-responsiveness and coherence? How should we interpret cases in which considerations of coherence interact with other norms or requirements? In this paper, I show how Haack’s (1993) crossword puzzle analogy sheds light on these questions. Also, the crossword puzzle analogy allows us to evaluate Kolodny’s objection and identify promising avenues for future research.

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Marc-Kevin Daoust
École de Technologie Supérieure


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