I don’t understand holistic coherentism. Here’s what I know: Linear coherentism is the form of coherentism that endorses circular reasoning (provided the circle is big enough). Holistic coherentism is supposed to be an alternative form of coherentism, which avoids foundations, circularity, infinite regress, and skepticism. It makes justification ‘holistic’. (Sorry, I don’t know what that means.) I’ve heard that the holistic coherentist believes:
A belief is justified iff it is part of a coherent system of beliefs.
This view is obviously false, since it implies that either all one’s beliefs are justified, or none of them are. If one’s belief system is coherent, then all one’s beliefs are justified; if it isn’t, then none of them are. I’m sure that the above offset proposition is not what many coherentists genuinely believe.
Leave that aside. What I don’t see is what logically possible alternative there is to (a) foundations, (b) circularity, (c) infinite regress, and (d) skepticism. Stated more generally, suppose there is a relation R, and a thing X that something might stand in R to. Consider the set of things that stand in the ancestral of R to X. This set of things either
(a) contains at least one thing such that nothing stands in R to it;
(b) contains at least one thing that stands in the ancestral of R to itself;
(c) contains infinitely many things that something stands in R to; or
(d) is the empty set.
I take it that what I just asserted is simply a truth of logic, independent of what R is. When we let R be the “is a reason for” relation (or something like it, maybe “is the reason for”, or “is a thing that _____ depends for its justification on”), (a) is the foundationalist structure, (b) is the linear coherentist structure, (c) is the infinitist structure, and (d) is the skeptical “structure.” I don’t see any logical space for the holistic coherentist to be another position. Can someone help explain this to me?