Coherentism Discomposed: A Critique of Bonjour's the Structure of Empirical Knowledge

Susan Haack

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/ths.1992.003

Abstract


I think Lewis is quite right to hold that its inability to allow the relevance of experience to justification is an insuperable difficulty for coherentism. Coheren- tists, however, naturally enough, argue that the difficulty is superable. This paper is a case study of one attempt to overcome it: BonJour’s. BonJour attempts to accommodate experiential input within a coherentist framework by means of the imposition of an additional requirement, the ‘Observation Requirement’, on justification. This, however, turns out to be ambiguous: on one interpretation it is compatible with coherentism but fails to guarantee experiential input; on the other, it guarantees observational input all right but sacrifices the coherentist character of the theory.

Keywords


conherentism; empirical knowledge; BonJour

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References


Alston W.P., Intemalism and Externalism in Epistemology, Philosophical Topics, XVI.1, 1986, pp. 179—-221, and An Internalist Externalism, Synthese, 74,1988, pp. 265—283.

Barret and R. Gibson, Blackwell’s, Oxford 1990, pp. 111—127, section 1.

BonJour L., The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1985; I shall also refer to BonJour’s Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 5, 1980, pp. 53—74.

BonJour L., Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge, p. 55.

BonJour L., 77ie Structure of Empirical Knowledge, p. 102.

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Lewis O. I., The Given Element in Empirical Knowledge, Philosophical Review, 61, 1952, pp. 168—175, pp. 168—169.


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