Coherence in Science: A Social Approach

Sanford C. Goldberg*, Kareem Khalifa

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Among epistemologists, it is common to assume that insofar as coherence bears on the justification of belief, the only relevant coherence relations are those within an individual subject’s web of beliefs. After clarifying this view and exploring some plausible motivations for it, we argue that this individualistic account of the epistemic relevance of coherence fails to account for central facets of scientific practice. In its place we propose a social account of coherence. According to the view we propose, a scientist S’s belief that p is prima facie unjustified if this belief negatively coheres with justified scientific claims in her scientific community. This account of coherence yields an epistemology for scientific belief which, we argue, has all of the benefits and none of the liabilities of its more individualistic predecessor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3489-3509
Number of pages21
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Coherence
  • Epistemic Justification
  • Normative Defeat
  • Social Epistemology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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