SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Metaphysical Coherentism and Vicious Regress
(Metaphysics and Ontology, )

A Metaphysical coherentism a relatively underexplored alternative to orthodox metaphysical foundationalism. Foundationalism offers a picture of reality's structure on which entities are organised into a hierarchy of linear chains of dependencies, which ultimately terminate in a foundational fundamental level. Coherentism offers an alternative picture where entities are a part of a complex web-like network of dependencies, which is self-sufficient, and has no need for any fundamental foundations. An attractive feature of coherentism seems that does not involve problematic primitives- those fundamental, brute, unexplained entities that foundationalism does, nor does it encounter problematic infinite regress- those never-ending chains of dependencies that come with foundationalism's traditional competitor, metaphysical infinitism. In this paper I address the objection that coherentism does in fact encounter vicious infinite regress or circularity. The worry involves the infinite number of relations and relata that emerge from the relational constitution of all entities. This worry can be addressed by appealing to the nature of the dependence relations involved in creating the network. Coherentism can be held in place without encountering infinite regress or circularity by ontological dependence that is partial, reflexive and symmetric. Bliss (2014) offers the suggestion that regress and circularity are only vicious if they constitute an explanatory failure. For coherentism to be in danger, there must be some worry that it cannot provide a complete explanation of each individual entity. A coherentists complete explanation of entity W is in terms of its relational constitution, and in terms of the relational constitution of each entity X, Y and Z etc, that constitute entity W, and so on. I argue that despite a complete explanation being extremely complex and seemingly infinite, this is merely an epistemic worry that does not prevent the metaphysical possibility of a coherentist picture. I conclude that coherentism remains a promising position, worthy of further philosophical investigation.

Chair: Blazej Mzyk
Time: 18:10-18:40, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.003
Remark: (Online Talk)

Emma Jaura 
(University of Nottingham, )



Testability and Meaning deco