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PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Justification - Neurath

You’re sticking with pure coherentism!

Otto Neurath
Otto Neurath

This view was famously defended by 20th-century philosophers Otto Neurath and W.V. Quine.

Neurath compared our system of beliefs to a boat that we must rebuild bit-by-bit while remaining afloat - we can never take it all apart and start from scratch. Similarly, he thought, we can’t get justified beliefs from nowhere, but only from a system of beliefs we already possess.


For a more complete guide to this topic, you might consult the following entries from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
“Foundationalist Theories of Epistemic Justification”, by Richard Fumerton (
“Coherentist Theories of Epistemic Justification”, by Erik Olsson (
Also recommended are the following entries from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
“Foundationalism”, by Ted Poston (
“Coherentism in Epistemology”, by Peter Murphy (
“Infinitism in Epistemology”, by Peter Klein and John Turri (
At Southampton, we run various modules that address these and similar issues, including Knowledge and Mind, Epistemology, Scepticism, and The Ethics of Belief. Many of our staff undertake research in this and related areas of epistemology, such as Dr. Kurt Sylvan, Dr. Genia Schönbaumsfeld, and Dr. Conor McHugh.


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