• Coherence Theory states that a statement is true if it makes sense when put with other statements that have already been accepted as the truth.
    • For example, we know that there are 2 boxes and one contains apples and one contains oranges. These statements are accepted as the truth. You take out a piece of fruit from box 1 and it is an orange. From this, we can gather that the statement "box 2 contains apples" is the truth because this new statement corresponds and makes sense when put with all the previously known truths.
    • Even if there is no proof (ex. if you never looked in box 2 to make sure it contained apples), you can safely assume the new statement is true because it makes sense when put with all the other information.
  • This theory is used a lot in math. For example, geometry is a concept based on a few simple facts that are accepted as the truth. More complex statements are based off of these simple statements.
  • Science and math get their credibility from the coherence theory. New concepts of math and science are accepted as the truth when this new information aligns with information already accepted as the truth.

  • Philosophers that have accepted the coherence theory as the best way to understand the truth are Leibniz, Spinoza, Hegal, Neurath, and Hempel.
    • Spinoza (1632- 1677) and Hegel (1770-1831) are the two philosophers who developed coherence theory.
    • They believed that for a statement to be true, it had to fit into a system that could describe all of reality.(1)
    • Spinoza believed that this system was God, meaning that all truths had to be able to fit into the belief system of God and all His laws.
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Hegel
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Spinoza


  • Some Eastern philosophers that have agreed with this view are Shankara, Buddhist monks, and Dharmakirti.
    • Dharmakirti, an Indian Buddhist, stated that any belief based on perception cannot be true if it does not align with the overall system of beliefs already existing within a certain society.
    • This makes sense when considering what would be true in a certain society, but may be considered false in a different society
    • An example is the statement "it is cold outside". If you are in Florida and the temperature is 25*C, that statement is considered true. If you are in Nunavut and it is 25*C, the statement is considered false.
    • Dharmakirti's view makes you consider how subjective a statement is when deciding if it is true of false.
          • Compared to math or scientific theories where the statement is either true or false. It can't sometimes be true and sometimes be false.
      Dharmakirti
      Dharmakirti



  • This theory does have some problems associated with it:
    • There is no distinction between a series of consistent truths and consistent untruths. For example, if a series of untruths are understood to be true, a statement that aligns with these untruths is said to be true even if this is not the case,
      • This is the case with many old beliefs. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the sun revolved around the Earth. This statement was proven true by statements in the Bible as well as scientific observations and calculations. (2)
      • In the 1500s, Copernicus used new information to create the theory of a heliocentric universe; a universe with the sun at the center instead of the Earth.(3)
      • The original beliefs and all the proofs made sense when put together. According to the coherence theory, the statement "the sun revolves around the Earth" cannot only be accepted as the truth, but is the truth.
      • We now know that this is not the case. The theory of the Earth revolving around the sun has more scientific evidence proving it true than the old beliefs did so now this new theory is accepted as the truth.
    • What does this example say about the beliefs we have now? In 100 years from now will things we accept as the truth be proven false as new information is discovered?

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Works Cited
(1) Cline, A. (2016, March 02). Coherence Theory of Truth. Retrieved November 26, 2016, from http://atheism.about.com/od/philosophyepistemology/a/Coherence.htm
(2) (n.a.). Geocentricity has proof; sun revolves around earth. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2016, from http://www.genesis-creation-proof.com/geocentricity.html
(3) (n.a.). Nicolaus Copernicus. (n.d.). Retrieved November 25, 2016, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Nicolaus-Copernicus