Coherence and correspondence in the network dynamics of belief suites

Episteme 14 (2):233-253 (2017)
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Coherence and correspondence are classical contenders as theories of truth. In this paper we examine them instead as interacting factors in the dynamics of belief across epistemic networks. We construct an agent-based model of network contact in which agents are characterized not in terms of single beliefs but in terms of internal belief suites. Individuals update elements of their belief suites on input from other agents in order both to maximize internal belief coherence and to incorporate ‘trickled in’ elements of truth as correspondence. Results, though often intuitive, prove more complex than in simpler models (Hegselmann & Krause 2002, 2006; Grim, Singer, Reade & Fisher 2015). The optimistic finding is that pressures toward internal coherence can exploit and expand on small elements of truth as correspondence is introduced into epistemic networks. Less optimistic results show that pressures for coherence can also work directly against the incorporation of truth, particularly when coherence is established first and new data is introduced later.

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Patrick Grim
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


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