Coherentists have done little to account for how their preferred notion of coherence is supposed to translate to justification. Is one justified in a belief iff one’s set of beliefs is coherent? If so, how can we account for varying degrees of coherence among our beliefs? This paper does not engage with the aforementioned Bayesian debate, but instead analyses possible connections between coherence and justification and comes to the surprising conclusion that this connection is not as direct as usually assumed. I argue that to determine the justification of individual beliefs one should look not only at the coherence of a person’s set of beliefs, but at the coherence of each of its subsets.
Following an Analysispaper from Klein and Warfield (1994), the last two decades have seen many attempts to formalize epistemic coherence in probability theory (Shogenji 1999, Bovens and Hartmann, 2003Fitelson2003, and Olsson 2005). The idea is to use Bayesian probability theory as the playing field on which to determine whether coherentist justification is indeed truth-conducive. If coherence correlates ceteris paribus with probability, then coherentist justification must be truth-conducive. If not, then it fails to possess an integral feature of justification. I argue, however, that coherence per se isn’t what needs to correlate with probability. If truth-conduciveness is indeed required of justification, then it is justificationthat needs to correlate with probability. And so a formal measure of justification is what I set out to provide. This is because, contrary to assumption, the relation between coherence and justification isn’t direct. After all, coherence exists at the level of sets of beliefs, while justification exists—if not exclusively—at the level of individual beliefs (Merricks 1995 and Shogenji 1999 agree).
This paper argues in favour of the metaphysical possibility of believing at will. That is, though many people think we cannot actually belief at will, there is a possible world in which our intending to believe p reliably brings about our belief that p. The paper overcomes worries for this view put forth by Bernard Williams and Kieran Setiya. Williams argues that, in order to believe voluntarily, a person needs both to know that she can believe at will and know that she can’t. He also argues that believing at will is incompatible with aiming at the truth, which he claims is required for belief. Last, Setiya argues that it is impossible to become confident in p—which on his view is constitutive of belief—while believing that one won’ t be justified in believing p.