My paper has been accepted as a paper for the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science’s conference.
KEYWORDS: coherence, coordination, epistemology
This paper examines the role of coherence as a source of epistemic justification, particularly the argument that all beliefs must cohere within one’s ‘web of belief’, aka confirmational holism. Confirmational holism runs across a potentially devastating argument that a more coherent set of beliefs resulting from the addition of a belief to a less coherent set of beliefs is less likely to be true than the less coherent set of beliefs. I propose confirmational chorism (CC) to avoid this troubling outcome. CC posits that coherence adds epistemic justification by limited, logically consistent sets of beliefs exhibiting a satisficing degree of strength, inferential and explanatory connection. Limited coherence may resolve the above argument, but raises the need for another kind of justification: coordination (integration across sets of beliefs). Belief coordination requires suppressing some beliefs and communicating other beliefs to ensure convergence on the right action for performance success. Thus, a belief in any particular context is justified not just because it is reliably formed and coherent, but also because of how it is coordinated between local and holistic goals.