I got it into my head some years ago that a constructivist epistemology is one that requires the foundations of new knowledge to be consistent with the existing corpus. I figured 'constructivist', since it builds on what is already there. I've since learnt, also some time ago, that constructivism is something entirely different.

I'm still not sure if there is even a term for this, possibly unchampionable, epistemology. Can anyone help?

1 Answer 1


What you may be looking for is the Coherentist school of thought, of which Laurence BonJour is a pioneer. Coherentism holds that, in order for a belief to be knowledge, it simply needs to be justified by being consistent with an existing "system of belief." If, however, some belief is inconsistent with the existing system of beliefs (i.e. causes a contradiction), it cannot be considered knowledge.

The primary objective of coherentism is to overcome the infinite regress problem of knowledge, that is, that some "inferential" knowledge A must come from B, which is inferential and so must come from C, etc. While foundationalists establish a theory of "non-inferential" knowledge, that which does not require more knowledge to be justified, coherentists place their justification in consistency with some chosen system of belief.

I think this sort of "new knowledge must be consistent with what all the stuff we have" is what you're asking for.

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