more from Gilbert Harman

Single Idea 6954

[catalogued under 2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 6. Coherence]

Full Idea

A set of unrelated beliefs seems less coherent than a tightly organized conceptual scheme that contains explanatory principles that make sense of most of your beliefs; this is why inference to the best explanation is an attractive pattern of inference.

Gist of Idea

A coherent conceptual scheme contains best explanations of most of your beliefs


Gilbert Harman (Rationality [1995], 1.5.2)

Book Reference

Harman,Gilbert: 'Reasoning Meaning and Mind' [OUP 1999], p.33

A Reaction

I find this a very appealing proposal. The central aim of rational thought seems to me to be best explanation, and I increasingly think that most of my beliefs rest on their apparent coherence, rather than their foundations.