Explanatory Coherence and the Impossibility of Confirmation by Coherence

Philosophy of Science 88 (5):835-848 (2021)
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The coherence of independent reports provides a strong reason to believe that the reports are true. This plausible claim has come under attack from recent work in Bayesian epistemology. This work shows that, under certain probabilistic conditions, coherence cannot increase the probability of the target claim. These theorems are taken to demonstrate that epistemic coherentism is untenable. To date no one has investigated how these results bear on different conceptions of coherence. I investigate this situation using Thagard’s ECHO model of explanatory coherence. Thagard’s ECHO model provides a natural representation of the evidential significance of multiple independent reports.

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Ted Poston
University of Alabama


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