an outline in six metaphors and four rules
This paper aspires to a general elucidation of the concept of "coherence". The purpose is to reduce the concept into a set of criteria or rules of application with which we could distinguish the coherent conclusions from the incoherent ones in any legal reasoning. This old aspiration is clouded by the traditional ambiguity of the coherentist literature and its tendency to express their tenets through diverse images and metaphors. However, the paper suggests that all these metaphors can be explored to rescue an explicit message, because most of them share some common patterns, an underlying consensus respecting the demands and requirements of a right, justified or coherent reasoning. The first part of the paper traces the coherentist literature in legal philosophy and epistemology in order to select the most meaningful and widely known metaphors. The research picks six of them—the raft, the net, the puzzle, the crossword, the spiral and the chain novel—, and proceeds to translate their images into more explicit statements. The second part draws the general patterns that underlie these six metaphors, and suggests four conditions of coherence. The first three conditions are variations of the idea of consistency: "concordance", "cohesion" and "unity". The fourth one or "comprehensivity" brings coherence beyond consistency, and expresses the tendency to complexity and the disposition to learn of any system which we could judge as minimally successful.
Pérez Bermejo, J. M. (2013)., Coherence: an outline in six metaphors and four rules, in M. Araszkiewicz & J. Šavelka (eds.), Coherence, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 93-111.
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