This chapter discusses the concept of coherence and its role in evidential reasoning in law. It examines three main approaches to coherence, namely, structural coherence, narrative coherence, and coherence as constraint satisfaction, and argues that coherence as constraint satisfaction provides an account of the kind of coherence that is relevant to legal fact-finding that is both descriptively adequate and normatively appealing. Next, it addresses some problems concerning the relation between coherence and inference, coherence and virtue, and coherence and truth in the context of legal factfinding. More specifically, it examines three main objections facing a coherentist account of inference, i.e., conservatism, circularity and unfeasibility, and conceptualizes it as an explanatory kind of inference. Then, it articulates a problem that has not been traditionally discussed in the coherentist literature, to wit, the coherence bias, and argues that virtue coherentism has the resources to effectively counteract it. Last, it defends the coherentist approach to evidence and legal proof against three objections that put into question the truth-conduciveness of coherence, namely, the isolation or input objection, the alternative coherent systems objection, and the truth objection. The chapter concludes by suggesting some avenues for further research on coherence, evidence, and legal proof.
|Philosophical Foundations of Law
- coherence bias