© 2011, Timothy Perisho
In this paper, I argue that purely Coherentist justifications (or refutations) of theories must rely upon a ‘theory-neutral’ set of sense data with which we are immediately acquainted. First, I explain the function of Russell’s theory of Definite Description and his theory of Acquaintance in his Coherentist epistemology. I take my counter-examples from the natural sciences and ultimately play off the fact that our brains ‘over-correct’ colors we see according to their color contexts in order to question the very idea of an ‘I,’ ‘this,’ and ‘now,’ which Russell uses to define acquaintance (as well as what I call a ‘theory-neutral’ set of sense data). The argument is that our data and theories are mutually dependent, which undermines the project of comparing theories, since distinct ultimate theories cannot have any common ground.
Note: Minor typographical corrections made and new version of article uploaded 8.29.2011.
Perisho, Timothy (2011) "Russell’s Coherentism: Theoretically Impossible," Res Cogitans: Vol. 2: Iss. 1, Article 14.