Reply to Bonjour

  • Nicholas Rescher
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 15)


Two points above all in Laurence Bonjour’s interesting discussion seem to me to demand a reply. The first relates to his renewed stress of the old point that “a coherent system seems to stand in splendid isolation with no effective input from the extra-theoretical world which it purports to describe.” I want to emphasize that my own coherentism is immune to this objection because it insists that “coherent” means “coherent with the plausible data” and recognizes — indeed stresses — the role for inputs into the functioning of our cognitive processes in the factual domain. Some writers would call such a theory a modest foundationalism, but this is a serious misnomer. There is nothing foundational about a recognition of the need for inputs in the acquisition of factual knowledge. Foundationalism, as I see it, turns not on the issue of the existence of inputs (who denies that?!), but on the nature of their role. (One might as well call Copernican astronomy a modest Ptolemaicism because it continues to admit the existence of the sun.)

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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

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  • Nicholas Rescher

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