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Can we trust our memories? C. I. Lewiss coherence argument

Olsson, Erik J LU and Shogenji, T. (2004) In Synthese 142(1). p.21-41
Abstract
In this paper we examine C. I. Lewis’s view on the role of coherence – what

he calls “congruence” – in the justification of beliefs based on memory or testimony. Lewis

has two main theses on the subject. His negative thesis states that coherence of independent

items of evidence has no impact on the probability of a conclusion unless each item has

some credibility of its own. The positive thesis says, roughly speaking, that coherence of

independently obtained items of evidence – such as converging memories or testimonies

– raises the probability of a conclusion to the extent sufficient for epistemic justification,

or, to use Lewis’s expression, “rational and practical reliance”.... (More)
In this paper we examine C. I. Lewis’s view on the role of coherence – what

he calls “congruence” – in the justification of beliefs based on memory or testimony. Lewis

has two main theses on the subject. His negative thesis states that coherence of independent

items of evidence has no impact on the probability of a conclusion unless each item has

some credibility of its own. The positive thesis says, roughly speaking, that coherence of

independently obtained items of evidence – such as converging memories or testimonies

– raises the probability of a conclusion to the extent sufficient for epistemic justification,

or, to use Lewis’s expression, “rational and practical reliance”. It turns out that, while

the negative thesis is essentially correct (apart from a slight flaw in Lewis’s account of

independence), a strong positive connection between congruence and probability – a connection

of the kind Lewis ultimately needs in his validation of memory – is contingent on

the Principle of Indifference. In the final section we assess the repercussions of the latter

fact for Lewis’s theory in particular and for coherence justification in general. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Lewis coherence congruence
in
Synthese
volume
142
issue
1
pages
21 - 41
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • wos:000225023200002
  • scopus:33751181866
ISSN
0039-7857
DOI
10.1023/B:SYNT.0000047708.33913.2b
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
80db878a-6500-44c6-8803-14e54d333910 (old id 144297)
date added to LUP
2007-07-26 16:42:24
date last changed
2017-11-05 04:23:11
@article{80db878a-6500-44c6-8803-14e54d333910,
  abstract     = {In this paper we examine C. I. Lewis’s view on the role of coherence – what<br/><br>
he calls “congruence” – in the justification of beliefs based on memory or testimony. Lewis<br/><br>
has two main theses on the subject. His negative thesis states that coherence of independent<br/><br>
items of evidence has no impact on the probability of a conclusion unless each item has<br/><br>
some credibility of its own. The positive thesis says, roughly speaking, that coherence of<br/><br>
independently obtained items of evidence – such as converging memories or testimonies<br/><br>
– raises the probability of a conclusion to the extent sufficient for epistemic justification,<br/><br>
or, to use Lewis’s expression, “rational and practical reliance”. It turns out that, while<br/><br>
the negative thesis is essentially correct (apart from a slight flaw in Lewis’s account of<br/><br>
independence), a strong positive connection between congruence and probability – a connection<br/><br>
of the kind Lewis ultimately needs in his validation of memory – is contingent on<br/><br>
the Principle of Indifference. In the final section we assess the repercussions of the latter<br/><br>
fact for Lewis’s theory in particular and for coherence justification in general.},
  author       = {Olsson, Erik J and Shogenji, T.},
  issn         = {0039-7857},
  keyword      = {Lewis
coherence
congruence},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {21--41},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Synthese},
  title        = {Can we trust our memories? C. I. Lewiss coherence argument},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:SYNT.0000047708.33913.2b},
  volume       = {142},
  year         = {2004},
}