Kuhn, Coherentism and Perception

In Pablo Melogno, Hernán Miguel & Leandro Giri (eds.), Perspectives on Kuhn: Contemporary Approaches to the Philosophy of Thomas Kuhn. Springer. pp. 1-14 (2023)
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The paper takes off from the suggestion of Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen that Kuhn’s account of science may be understood in coherentist terms. There are coherentist themes in Kuhn’s philosophy of science. But one crucial element is lacking. Kuhn does not deny the existence of basic beliefs which have a non-doxastic source of justification. Nor does he assert that epistemic justification only derives from inferential relationships between non-basic beliefs. Despite this, the coherentist interpretation is promising and I develop it further in this paper. I raise the question of whether Kuhn’s account of science can deal with the input objection to coherentism. I argue that the role played by problems in Kuhn’s theory of science ensures that there is input from the external world into scientists’ belief-systems. I follow Hoyningen-Huene in pointing to the causal role played by the external world in determining perceptual states. I next turn to the question of whether Kuhn’s rejection of foundationalism implies coherentism. I argue that Kuhn’s rejection of the one-to-one relation between object and experience is compatible with a foundationalist account of justification. Nor does Kuhn’s rejection of the given entail the same coherentist implications as Sellars’ critique of the myth of the given.

Author's Profile

Howard Sankey
University of Melbourne


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