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Can Coherence Generate Warrant Ex Nihilo? Probability and the Logic of Concurring Witnesses

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Most foundationalists allow that relations of coherence among antecedently justified beliefs can enhance their overall level of justification or warrant. In light of this, some coherentists ask the following question: if coherence can elevate the epistemic status of a set of beliefs, what prevents it from generating warrant entirely on its own? Why do we need the foundationalist’s basic beliefs? I address that question here, drawing lessons from an instructive series of attempts to reconstruct within the probability calculus the classical problem of independent witnesses who corroborate each other’s testimony. Starred section headings indicate sections omitted here, but available on the author’s USC website.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Southern California

Publication date: 2011-03-01

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