Quite recently I started to think the notion of coherence in the context of cognitive sciences. (The sun was shining and so on…) As well know, there are several ways to interpret philosophically the notion of (conceptual) coherence.
For instance, one way is to say that the notion of coherence can be simply defined as the similarity of certain concepts. The basic idea is that objects fall into natural clusters of similar kinds, and our concepts map into these concepts. Of course, as was pointed out by Quine, using similarity as the basis of concepts will raise the very same question again. It namely well be that we see some concepts similar, because they are part of the very same category, and thus one needs an independent theory of similarity (Quine, 1977, also Murphy and Medin, 1985).
Another, interesting and theoretically deep analysis of the notion of coherence is proposed by Thagard, Chris Eliasmith (he is my personal idol!!!) and their colleagues (Thagard and Verbeugt, 1998, Thagard, Eliasmith & et al). In their model epistemic coherence is understood in terms of maximization of constrain satisfaction.
According to this model knowledge involves at least five different kinds of coherence. These kinds of coherence are explanatory, analogical, deductive, perceptual and conceptual coherence. Each of these require different sorts of elements and constraints.
The conceptual coherence is defined technically as follows: (i) Conceptual coherence is a symmetric relation between the pairs of concepts, (ii) a concept coheres with another concept if they are positively associated, if there are objects to which they both apply, (iii) the applicability of a concept to an object may be given perceptually or by some other reliable source, (iv) a concept incoheres with another concept, if they are negatively associated, i.e. if an object falling under one concept tends not to fall under the other concept. Finally (v) the applicability of a concept to an object depends on the applicability of other concepts.
I do not, folks, what should we think about this… First (i) does anybody disagree, and if so, why? And second, (ii) does anybody know any other suggestions?
From sunny Helsinki,