Reliability conducive measures of coherence

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Abstract

A measure of coherence is said to be truth conducive if and only if a higher degree of coherence (as measured) results in a higher likelihood of truth. Recent impossibility results strongly indicate that there are no (non-trivial) probabilistic coherence measures that are truth conducive. Indeed, this holds even if truth conduciveness is understood in a weak ceteris paribus sense (Bovens & Hartmann, 2003, Bayesian epistemology. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press; Olsson, 2005, Against coherence: Truth probability and justification. Oxford: Oxford University Press). This raises the problem of how coherence could nonetheless be an epistemically important property. Our proposal is that coherence may be linked in a certain way to reliability. We define a measure of coherence to be reliability conducive if and only if a higher degree of coherence (as measured) results in a higher probability that the information sources are reliable. Restricting ourselves to the most basic case, we investigate which coherence measures in the literature are reliability conducive. It turns out that, while a number of measures fail to be reliability conducive, except possibly in a trivial and uninteresting sense, Shogenji's measure and several measures generated by Douven and Meijs's recipe are notable exceptions to this rule.

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  • Philosophy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-308
JournalSynthese
Volume157
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes