### Theory Assessment and Coherence

#### Abstract

One of the most important questions in epistemology and the

philosophy of science is: what is a good theory and when is a theory better

than another theory, given some observational data? The coherentist‟s answer

would be the following twofold conjecture: (i) A theory is a good theory

given some observational data iff that theory coheres with the observational

data and (ii) a theory is better than another theory given some

observational data iff the first theory coheres more with the observational

data than the second theory. In this paper we show that this answer is a

good answer. More precisely, we argue that the coherence measures of Olsson

(2002) and Shogenji (1999) are good measures for the purpose of comparing

and evaluating theories, i.e. assessing theories. We do so by clarifying the

sufficient and necessary conditions every assess-ment function must satisfy

for being a good measure of the goodness of theories. Afterwards we will

show that the coherence measures of Olsson and Shogenji are indeed good

assessment functions for assessing theories.

philosophy of science is: what is a good theory and when is a theory better

than another theory, given some observational data? The coherentist‟s answer

would be the following twofold conjecture: (i) A theory is a good theory

given some observational data iff that theory coheres with the observational

data and (ii) a theory is better than another theory given some

observational data iff the first theory coheres more with the observational

data than the second theory. In this paper we show that this answer is a

good answer. More precisely, we argue that the coherence measures of Olsson

(2002) and Shogenji (1999) are good measures for the purpose of comparing

and evaluating theories, i.e. assessing theories. We do so by clarifying the

sufficient and necessary conditions every assess-ment function must satisfy

for being a good measure of the goodness of theories. Afterwards we will

show that the coherence measures of Olsson and Shogenji are indeed good

assessment functions for assessing theories.

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