Thursday, December 30, 2010

The coherent argument.

I've often heard the philosophical types come out with the 'coherent argument' thing. So I decided it was time to have a look at it. Should be simple enough, you'd think, right?

I look up 'coherent argument for God' and up pops a page telling me the ins and outs of why we have to take for granted the possibility that at least one God(if not 'at most') exists, right?

Well, it's not as simple as that. Google has many pages on this kind of thing but each one is either trying to get us to accept a specific argument as coherent or reject it as incoherent.

It gets worse. From here, There are two distinct types of coherentism. One refers to the coherence theory of truth. The other is belief in the coherence theory of justification—an epistemological theory opposing foundationalism and offering a solution to the regress argument. In this epistemological capacity, it is a theory about how belief can be justified.

Now every time I read, 'coherent argument' I'm going to be wondering which kind of coherence they are talking about, since this is usually meant to be a conversation stopper, as in, "We have a coherent argument.(Therefore, you can shut up now.)"

If they are refering to the second kind it seems, at least at first blush, that they're saying that their argument is good because that is what they believe, which seems a bit devious to me.

"One way of explaining the theory of justification is to say that a justified belief is one that we are "within our rights" in holding." This seems to be what the Christian philosophy dudes and dudettes ARE saying. I've noticed that the 'coherent argument' thing is usually preceded by 'epistemology'.

Are atheists so cowed by $50 words that they just 'shut up' when faced with this 'big sister' "'cos I say so." argument meaning, basically, "I have reason to believe in God because it is one of my beliefs."?

I'd like to hear from anyone at all on this, perhaps explaining, why what I just said is wrong, how it is wrong, and at least some kind of conversation 'unstopper' to this, "Well, it's my epistemological, coherent-argument-style beliefs that stump them atheists all the time.", because it seems to me that we are arguing AGAINST those exact beliefs in the first place, aren't we?

Is this the philosophical equivalent to, "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!"?, "coherent argument" being the, ".. that settles it!", part?

From here:-

we get this wonderful apology, "In this paper I do not seek to prove whether God exists or not, because I don't believe that's possible.", putting the onus on non-believers to cover all possible wordplay and perspective proving the incoherence of God as defined by theists themselves.

Seems that once the 'God genie' is out of the bottle, it's just too big to pop back in, no matter the historical, evolutionary, social, or whatnot reason for popping the cork in the first place.

"We were simply attempting to understand the sky and gain some control over it/find some way to appeal to it!"?

"Over-ruled! We have a coherent argument! There's a mysterious 'baby'(Jesus?) in that bathwater!"


Anonymous said...

I've never heard of the coherent argument. Any theist who uses it is probably smart/well-studied enough to know they are on shaky ground anyway, and are simply trying to use the unfamiliar as a stun weapon.

GearHedEd said...

Here's a whole list of arguments

Harry C Pharisee said...


1. As an internet compatriot I order you to not second guess "common" speech. Eric does that crap to non-initiates all the time. Me no likey. Reeks of elitism, disingenuity, and cowardice. Philosophy could co-opt the word taco for Zeus' sake.

2. Coherentism. I hadn't heard of it before. I just read the first Wikipedia link you gave. No citations. He/she makes an argument from language. It isn't circular, but it is predicated upon an "individual or group," which leads only to debating about the veracity of subjectivity. Russell's criticism is valid; the author does not satisfactorily answer the 'correspondence theory.'

To me the only 'interesting' point was about "some statement P." There should be justification for it, and justification for what justifies... so how does one escape this infinite regress?

It's fucking language.

3. I'm on your second link, and this, "There is no single coherence theory of truth, but rather an assortment of perspectives that are commonly collected under this title," is amusing, and despite not being cited, dead accurate considering the subjectivity this 'theory' embraces.

Once again Russell is mentioned. Good. It's a rational response.

4. Third link. It just repeats the definition, the repetition of which, at least in my mind, exposes Coherentism as political. At their 'best,' subjective theories end up making political claims.

5. Fourth link. Well whaddaya know, it's Epistemology! Sorry, couldn't help myself

6. Fifth link. Frankly I see neither Foundationalism or Coherentism as particularly convincing arguments about truth or reality. If they are "opposing" it's like a pixie fighting a leprechaun.

Oh and yes, Hume still has us by the balls. So glad they noted that.

7. Sixth link. As stated previously, it's fucking language. I like epistemology, but this so-called problem is silly.

8. Seventh link. Belief. Not going to read it. Do I need to?

9. Eighth link. Same as the third. You meanie.

In conclusion, Coherentism isn't bullshit but it only addresses and supports subjectivity. It's main import would be in a political capacity.

If that doesn't help,


your mama.

Harry C Pharisee said...

*neither Foundationalism or Coherentism...

Forgot my 'nor!'

mac said...

This whole thing just sounds like Eric.

I think that's why he gets so upset with everyone over at Brian's blog. He has been told something aong the lines of "they'll be so amazed if you use big words and deviously absract concepts, they'll have no choice but concede, Goddidit"

Harry C Pharisee said...

mac's post reminds me. This type of thing is an abuse of authority by using one's discipline. I finally graduated this semester.

Peeb's a smart dude, and he asks me to help sift through this bullshit. He shouldn't have to.

It appears to me like conservative religious adherents are trying to hide intellectually in two places: science and philosophy.

So what if some believer who's an MD enters the fray on Brian's blog and starts using data and terminology that Harvey and Pliny are familiar with and we aren't? That's mean and sad.

Not everything is simple, but "proving," a supposedly transcendent deity who can take physical form, the long way round by fucking with others through terminology... how immoral is that?

Harry C Pharisee said...

*"I finally graduated this semester. "

That was part of another sentence. The whole thing should've been erased.

pboyfloyd said...

Actually Harry, I was hoping that you could lay out what the Hell they were actually saying when they said that.

Coherent..3. having a natural or due agreement of parts; harmonious:

What is it about their argument that is particularly coherent?

The entire notion of God and Heaven and all the different ways that people get taught it and believe it is a whole mish-mash of incoherence to me.

Eric certainly was one for calling a spade a horticultural earth reorganizer, wasn't he?

mac said...

It's the old "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with Bullshit" trick.

I know, I'm full of shit from way back ;-)

Harry C Pharisee said...

"Actually Harry, I was hoping that you could lay out what the Hell they were actually saying when they said that."

Apologies. If you haven't sussed it out already I'll get to it a bit later.

Harry C Pharisee said...

I wish I had more time but I wanted to get back to you.

The premise or premises for your belief system can be arbitrary. But the rest of your propositions must conform to those premises.

So one doesn't have to be rational to establish a system, but one has to be rational about the system.

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