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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    So, by what criteria does it establish coherence, without that system being axiomatic?
    It was Calvin you were arguing about axioms with, I'd say to make sense it does need axioms, and that pretty much undermines it. I don't actually agree with it - I was pointing out that a particular argument you were trying to use wasn't valid.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Then it seems that you simply don't understand the problems. The narrative of Star Wars is coherent, but it is not true.
    The narrative of Star Wars isn't a belief system. Again, I don't agree with coherentism, I just disagree with your argument.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I think that's the point I have been making for some time. I agree that a set of beliefs doesn't have to be coherent from a non-coherentist's viewpoiint. The empiricist will have beliefs based upon evidence, for example, and will accord justification based upon the evidential support.

    However, the coherentist is saying that you can only believe things which are coherent with your set of beliefs. If you don't believe it, then it isn't in your set of beliefs. If it is to be in that set then a) you must believe it and b) it must therefore be coherent with your other beliefs. Now, belief sets can be complex and people have argued that coherentism is a holistic system and that you don't have a foundational chain from some basic beliefs. The problem is how one establishes coherence from the existing set. If you belive p, q, r s and t, what happens if a new belief x coheres with p, q and s, but doesn't with r and t? You can argue that it can be believed but it less justified in that belief. However, this means that beliefs have different levels of warrant and leads us inescapably back to Plantinga's concept of basic beliefs.
    And as I keep trying to say, a coherentist doesn't claim that you can only believe things which are coherent with your beliefs - this would be equivalent to someone who believes in the correspondence theory of truth claiming you can only believe things that correspond with reality. Your a) is true, but b) is a condition for whether it is considered to be true, not whether it is in your set of beliefs. Your last part I think I agree with, but its not what you were arguing before.
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    (Original post by Grumballcake)
    So, by what criteria does it establish coherence, without that system being axiomatic?
    Grrr....
    It's circular justification. That's the point! You may not like it, but thats not something that needs to bother a genuine coherentist.


    There is also nothing to stop a coherentist building observations into their system of beliefs. You system is going to be made up with proposistions and observations. you interpretation of the observations are going to yield equivalent propositions and together those make up your belief system. So coherentism isn't contradicting Science for example. I can still make observations and build up ideas about natural laws, scientific theories, predictions etc. I do those by making observations and having beliefs.
    If you really wanted to you could even have a requirement (objectively arbitrary but subjectively it could be justified) that truth requires a certain amount of observational coherence. "Something can only be true if it coheres consistently with observations you make."
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    And as I keep trying to say, a coherentist doesn't claim that you can only believe things which are coherent with your beliefs
    Could you provide an example of this, ideally with references, please? I think you're wrong from what I've read, but I can't say that I've comprehensively covered it.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Grrr....
    It's circular justification. That's the point! You may not like it, but thats not something that needs to bother a genuine coherentist.
    I understand that coherentists want to avoid axioms or basic beliefs, but you're simply skipping over the point. I'm not objecting to circularity (this time). I'm saying that the definition of 'coherent' is itself either axiomatic or useless. we had a long worked example demonstrating this, so portraying my argument as being solely about circularity seems like wriggling.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Could you provide an example of this, ideally with references, please? I think you're wrong from what I've read, but I can't say that I've comprehensively covered it.
    I think I've found our problem:
    (Original post by Wikipedia)
    There are two distinct types of Coherentism. One refers to the coherence theory of truth. The other is belief in the coherence theory of justification — an epistemological theory opposing foundationalism and offering a solution to the regress argument. In this epistemological capacity, it is a theory about how belief can be justified.

    As a theory of truth Coherentism restricts true sentences to those that cohere with some specified set of sentences. Someone's belief is true just in the case that it is coherent with all or most of their other beliefs. Usually, coherence is taken to imply something stronger than mere consistency. Statements that are comprehensive and meet the requirements of Occam's razor are usually to be preferred.

    I'm talking about the coherence theory of truth and you're talking about the coherence theory of justification. No wonder we're getting so bogged down.
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    I'm talking about the coherence theory of truth and you're talking about the coherence theory of justification.
    Well, yes, but you jumped in on my reply to Calvin who has been consistently talking about justification (as have I).

    The coherence theory of truth is largely a waste of time as far as I can see. It doesn't describe anything useful or distinctive. All theories of truth would ultimately fall into that category, wouldn't they? You simply choose your 'sentences' so that they cohere with your beliefs. Especially since you could include the phrase "or anything else I consider reasonable" in that set.

    I believe that Occam's Razor is misleading as any kind of guide to truth. It's simpler to believe that Apollo makes the sun rise, than to believe in nuclear fusion in the heart of stars, but it isn't true. Or if you prefer a less polarised version: Newtonian physics is simpler than Special Relativity. It all depends what you want to call a 'necessary' entity.
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    Ho hum. Hate to say it but does anybody feel we're making any kind of progress here? Might this be a case of wires being just too crossed?
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    Ho hum. Hate to say it but does anybody feel we're making any kind of progress here? Might this be a case of wires being just too crossed?
    if i didn't know better, i'd say your all talking cross purposes :p: hehe
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    does anybody feel we're making any kind of progress here?
    I dunno. So far your coherentism (justification branch) is getting a sound kicking, so it depends if it feels like re-entering the fray or simply retiring to a quiet corner to lick its wounds. :p:
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    *sigh*

    I don't know how it works in theology but in philosophy repeating yourself over and over doesn't count as an argument. You are objecting to circularity because your simply objecting to the non-axiomatic nature of the logic used for coherence. I say its justified by being coherent. You say its useless if its not justified by something else. I say no its not. You say yes it is.

    As far as arbitrariness. Your taking an objective stance. Essentially: "What outside your belief system justifies that?" But the whole point is that jusification is internal to a belief system not external. Again, you might disagree, but that's not a refutation.
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    (Original post by Calvin)
    I say its justified by being coherent.
    OK, so define what 'coherent' means in this context. I've asked a few times now.

    I contend that coherent either means a) whatever you want it to mean, or that b) you have to have a definition of coherent which will necessarily become axiomatic. So that leaves us with a system where coherence is a meaningless word because it simply means "set" and no more. It cannot be used with anyone else, as it's become part of a private language.

    On the other hand, if you want to explore ideas with anyone else, you need to use the word in a way where someone outside your perspective can recognise the rules in the system of coherence and discuss any apparent anomalies. That will usually devolve to a shared axiomatic framework.

    I have demonstrated that coherence as an epistemic tool is fatally flawed as a system of justification. I would appreciate rather more than sighs and mis-stating my position.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Well, yes, but you jumped in on my reply to Calvin who has been consistently talking about justification (as have I).
    Actually, I started off this whole discussion with 'what is truth?' with Calvin giving the coherence theory as an answer. I obviously missed the point where we moved from the one to the other.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    The coherence theory of truth is largely a waste of time as far as I can see. It doesn't describe anything useful or distinctive. All theories of truth would ultimately fall into that category, wouldn't they? You simply choose your 'sentences' so that they cohere with your beliefs. Especially since you could include the phrase "or anything else I consider reasonable" in that set.
    I agree - at the start of this discussion I was attacking it. I just thought the particular argument you used didn't hold up, which makes sense given that you were talking about justification.

    I believe that Occam's Razor is misleading as any kind of guide to truth. It's simpler to believe that Apollo makes the sun rise, than to believe in nuclear fusion in the heart of stars, but it isn't true. Or if you prefer a less polarised version: Newtonian physics is simpler than Special Relativity. It all depends what you want to call a 'necessary' entity.
    Occam's razor I am willing to defend. It isn't 'choose the simplest explanation' but 'choose the simplest valid explanation. Newtonian physics falls through because it isn't a valid explanation for all physical phenomena - light doesn't act as it should under classical laws, so you need special relativity. Science has Occam's razor at its base - it is always possible to construct more and more complicated and arbitrary explanations for phenomena.
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    choose the simplest valid explanation.
    That doesn't make sense unless you already know the valid answer, in which case there wouldn't be any choice to make.

    Anyway Occam's Razor says "non est ponenda pluritas sine necessitate" - or "don't suppose entities unecessarily". Again it's the "unnecessarily" which is problematic as you don't know which entities are necessary. It's a useful rule of thumb, certainly, but it may not be true in all cases. Let's take a an oversimplified example to make the point: suppose I have a fever, headache and nausea. All those could be explained by influenza, or by food poisoning. If you applied Occam, you'd say that I must have one or the other because either could explain all the symptoms and we shouldn't multiple entities unnecessarily. However, I could actually have both influenza and food poisoning.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    That doesn't make sense unless you already know the valid answer, in which case there wouldn't be any choice to make.
    A valid answer is one that explains all the known facts. There are always an infinite number of valid answers. So you choose the simplest.

    (Original post by grumballcake)
    Anyway Occam's Razor says "non est ponenda pluritas sine necessitate" - or "don't suppose entities unecessarily". Again it's the "unnecessarily" which is problematic as you don't know which entities are necessary. It's a useful rule of thumb, certainly, but it may not be true in all cases. Let's take a an oversimplified example to make the point: suppose I have a fever, headache and nausea. All those could be explained by influenza, or by food poisoning. If you applied Occam, you'd say that I must have one or the other because either could explain all the symptoms and we shouldn't multiple entities unnecessarily. However, I could actually have both influenza and food poisoning.
    Actually, applying Occam's razor just tells you that you have one or more of the illnesses that cause those symptoms - there will be further facts (i.e blood tests) that make only one of these alternatives valid. A real violation of it would be to suppose that a new disease that has never been encountered before was causing your symptoms. Or that invisible aliens had flown 300 light years from another planet with their symptom-causing beam and zapped you for religious reasons.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    OK, so define what 'coherent' means in this context. I've asked a few times now.

    I contend that coherent either means a) whatever you want it to mean, or that b) you have to have a definition of coherent which will necessarily become axiomatic. So that leaves us with a system where coherence is a meaningless word because it simply means "set" and no more. It cannot be used with anyone else, as it's become part of a private language.

    On the other hand, if you want to explore ideas with anyone else, you need to use the word in a way where someone outside your perspective can recognise the rules in the system of coherence and discuss any apparent anomalies. That will usually devolve to a shared axiomatic framework.

    I have demonstrated that coherence as an epistemic tool is fatally flawed as a system of justification. I would appreciate rather more than sighs and mis-stating my position.
    This isn't a semantic discussion so lets not make it one.
    Coherence: May be logically deduced from one or more propositions without logical contradiction.

    What decides the logical contradicition will then be the system of logic I use. Now technically thats something I come up with, it's not objectively grounded but seeing as this is a subjectivist theory that's ok right?

    Now how is this axiomatic? Well lets see, there are the axioms of logic, but then seeing as they aren't base axioms but are justified by other members of my belief system they aren't really axioms which by definition are to be accepted without justification. But how can I justify these axioms when the concept of justification depends on these 'axioms' and the logic they create? Because the theory is trying to create a theory of justification which uses circular justification (well technically more of a web...)

    Edited: Originally too scathing and witty to publish
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    but seeing as this is a subjectivist theory that's ok right?
    Not all coherentist viewpoints are subjectivist, but I guess you knew that. However, I agree that you've been arguing for subjectivity, although that seems to me like a contradiction in terms. If everything is to be subjective, then how would we argue anything? As I've said before, you end up with extreme post-modernism where ethnocentricity is reduced to a single person.

    I fully understand why circular justification appeals, but I'm puzzled by the fact that you don't admit its flaws. If your system cannot tell fiction from fact, then does it have any epistemic value at all? A paranoid schizophrenic has a coherent and circular justification system, but it does not help him with the pursuit of knowledge.
    ... if, as a coherence theory claims, coherence is the sole basis for empirical justification, it follows that a system of empirical beliefs might be adequately justified, indeed might constitute empirical knowledge, in spite of being utterly out of contact with the world that it purports to describe.

    Lawrence BonJour,The Structure of Empirical Justification.
    You've noted that your system can't tell 'justified' from 'true', so why try and mock me for making the same point?
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    Well, as I think Calvin was trying to get at earlier (he can correct me if I'm wrong), its difficult to come up with any acceptable definition of 'truth' that actually allows you to have any access to truth. So you retreat back to looking at whether beliefs are 'justified' because its useless to talk about whether or not they are 'true'.
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    you retreat back to looking at whether beliefs are 'justified' because its useless to talk about whether or not they are 'true'.
    I'm no stranger to this debate - it's a common theme in discussions between atheists and Christians and I have more than 25 years of experience in those as well as a master's degree in philosophical theology. Since Kant, it's been obvious that no system of reason will be deal with concepts like absolute truth. I've mentioned Plantinga's ideas of warrant because they're one of the best ways of tackling this particular problem, in my view.
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    (Original post by grumballcake)
    I'm no stranger to this debate - it's a common theme in discussions between atheists and Christians and I have more than 25 years of experience in those as well as a master's degree in philosophical theology. Since Kant, it's been obvious that no system of reason will be deal with concepts like absolute truth. I've mentioned Plantinga's ideas of warrant because they're one of the best ways of tackling this particular problem, in my view.
    I don't doubt your credentials. You criticised Calvin's argument on the basis of it creating a system of justification that doesn't depend on the truth of the statements - but justification by other means may be impossible.
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    (Original post by wanderer)
    You criticised Calvin's argument on the basis of it creating a system of justification that doesn't depend on the truth of the statements - but justification by other means may be impossible.
    I think it's clear that absolute justification is impossible. What we're trying to find is a system which gives the best results under normal circumstances. For my money, that means a system which can deal with both physical phenomena and with things like religious belief. the problem with the subjective systems is that logically they're indistinguishable from madness, when we use their own criteria to judge them. Likewise, empiricisim becomes incoherent because it relies on metaphysical statements at the same time as denying that they should exist. The famous quotation from Hume (which one TSR member has in their sig) is the most obvious example of this.
 
 
 
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