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The Structure of Empirical Knowledge

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0674843813
ISBN-10: 0674843819
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Editorial Reviews


BonJour develops what is undoubtedly the strongest version of a coherence theory of epistemic justification that has been produced. The entire work is outstanding for the way BonJour bends over backward to formulate and answer objections to his positions. This is a very fine work, something people will be reading and reacting to for some time to come. (William P. Alston, Syracuse University)

This book is a significant contribution. The overall structure of the book is well conceived. Each step in the argument is clearly motivated and many of the steps are original... The writing style is straightforward, clear, and polished. (Peter Klein, Rutgers University)

The Structure of Empirical Knowledge is important as a very lucid and perceptive treatment of the coherence/foundations controversy. Thorough and careful, it is also well conceived and well written and does not get lost in details. It should be of interest to philosophers of every persuasion. (Ernest Sosa, Brown University)

About the Author

Laurence BonJour is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington, where he teaches epistemology, history of modern philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of law, and political philosophy. He is the author of three books: "The Structure of Empirical Knowledge" (1985), "In Defense of Pure Reason" (1998), and "Epistemology: Classic Problems and Contemporary Responses" (2002).

Ernest Sosa is Professor of Philosophy at Brown University and Distinguished Visiting Professor at Rutgers University every spring term. He has written widely on epistemology and is author of "Knowledge in Perspective" (1991). Sosa and His Critics, edited by John Greco, is forthcoming in the Blackwell series, Philosophers and Their Critics.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 15, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674843819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674843813
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,402,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Laurence BonJour offers here a powerful critique of "foundationalism" and a careful, cogent presentation of a "coherentist" account of justification.

His thesis is weaker than Brand Blanshard's; BonJour does not wish to defend a coherentist account of truth itself, nor a version of coherentism in which every fact is entailed by literally _every_ other.

In one important sense this is a strength rather than a weakness; it would be a shame if coherentism were simply _identified_ with its strongest version, for coherentism itself could then be summarily dismissed if its "strong" form failed.

On the other hand, in my own view BonJour devotes insufficient attention to the "strong" form, which I find more defensible than he does at least as a theoretical ideal. (He is right, though, that Blanshard's own account of "strong" coherentism requires a more detailed defense than Blanshard himself provided.)

At any rate, BonJour's work belongs on the shortlist of top philosophical works in the rationalist camp. Together with his _In Defense of Pure Reason_, it is required reading for anyone interested in understanding and defending the role of reason in philosophy and elsewhere.
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