Coherence and Reliability

Project: Dissertation

Layman's description

In this disseration project the relation between the concepts of coherence and reliability are investigated, using probability theory. Is, for example, the degree of coherence of a set of testimonies in a trial connected with the reliability of the witnesses? The project also incorporates a theory of how coherence should be defined, again using probability theory.

This dissertation treats the so-called coherence theory of of how our* beliefs are justified. According to the coherence theory, our beliefs are justified thanks to the fact that they hang together so well and mutually support each oter (i.e., they are coherent). This theory has widely been seen as intuitive, but it has been hard to define the central notion of coherence in a clear and distinct way.

During the last decades the so-called formal coherence theory has tried to remedy this problem. The concept of coherence has been defined using probability theory. Also, philosophers have tested whether coherence really makes our beliefs justified. The result of these investigation have partly been negative: no consensus has been reached regarding how coherence is to be defined, and it has been shown that no coherence measures have certain properties that are useful for justifying our beliefs.

The dissertation is a contribution to the formal coherence theory. More exactly, the relation between the concepts of coherence and reliability is investigated; it is tested whether the fact that a set of beliefs, testimonies or other items of information is coherent is a sign of them having been created in a reliable way (e.g., due to the fact that they have been created by reliable witnesses).

* It should be noted that the subject matter of theories of justification within the theory of knowledge is how individuals can justify their own beliefs.
Effective start/end date2007/09/012011/12/31