Laurence BonJour

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Laurence BonJour
Born31 August 1943
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Epistemic coherentism[1]
Main interests
Notable ideas
Coherentism, a priori justification

Laurence BonJour (born August 31, 1943) is an American philosopher and Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Washington.[2]

Education and career[edit]

He received his bachelor's degrees in Philosophy and Political Science from Macalester College and his doctorate in 1969 from Princeton University with a dissertation directed by Richard Rorty. Before moving to UW he taught at the University of Texas at Austin.[3]

Philosophical work[edit]

His areas of specialty include epistemology, Kant, and British empiricism.

BonJour is best known for his contributions to epistemology. Initially defending coherentism in his anti-foundationalist critique The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, BonJour has since moved to defend Cartesian foundationalism in such works as Epistemology and In Defense of Pure Reason. The latter book is a sustained defense of a priori justification, strongly criticizing empiricists and pragmatists who dismiss it (such as W. V. O. Quine and Richard Rorty).



  • The Structure of Empirical Knowledge. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), pp. xiii, 258.
  • In Defense of Pure Reason. (London: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. xiv, 232.
  • Epistemology: Classic Problems and Contemporary Responses. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), pp. viii, 283.
  • Epistemic Justification: Internalism vs. Externalism, Foundations vs. Virtues (jointly with Ernest Sosa). (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), pp. vii, 240.
  • Philosophical Problems: An Annotated Anthology (jointly edited with Ann Baker). (New York: Longman, 2005), pp. xvi, 876.


  • "Sellars on Truth and Picturing", International Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 13 (1973), pp. 243–65.
  • "Rescher's Idealistic Pragmatism", The Review of Metaphysics, vol. 29 (1976), pp. 702–26.
  • "Determinism, Libertarianism, and Agent Causation", The Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 14 (1976), pp. 145–56.
  • "The Coherence Theory of Empirical Knowledge", Philosophical Studies, vol. 30 (1976), pp. 281–312; reprinted in Paul Moser (ed.) Empirical Knowledge (Rowman & Littlefield, 1986), in Louis Pojman (ed.), The Theory of Knowledge (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1993), and in Michael Goodman and Robert A. Snyder (eds.) Contemporary Readings in Epistemology (Prentice-Hall, 1993).
  • "Can Empirical Knowledge Have a Foundation?" American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 15 (1978), pp. 1–14; reprinted in Paul Moser (ed.), Empirical Knowledge (Totowa, N. J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1986) and in Louis Pojman (ed.), The Theory of Knowledge (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1993).
  • "Rescher's Philosophical System", in E. Sosa (ed.), The Philosophy of Nicholas Rescher (Dordrecht, the Netherlands: D. Reidel, 1979), pp. 157–72.
  • "Externalist Theories of Empirical Knowledge", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 5 (1980), pp. 53–73.
  • "Reply to Christlieb", The Southern Journal of Philosophy, vol. 24 (1986), pp. 415–29.
  • "A Reconsideration of the Problem of Induction", Philosophical Topics, vol. 14 (1986), pp. 93–124.
  • "Nozick, Externalism, and Skepticism", in S. Luper-Foy (ed.), The Possibility of Knowledge: Nozick and His Critics (Totowa, N. J.: Rowman & Littlefield, 1987), pp. 297–313.
  • "Reply to Steup", Philosophical Studies, vol.
  • "Reply to Moser", Analysis, vol. 48 (1988), pp. 164–65.
  • "Replies and Clarifications", in J. W. Bender (ed.), The Current State of the Coherence Theory: Essays on the Epistemic Theories of Keith Lehrer and Laurence BonJour (Dordrecht, Holland: Kluwer, 1989), pp. 276–92.
  • "Reply to Solomon", Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  • "Is Thought a Symbolic Process?" Synthese, vol. 89 (1991), pp. 331–52.
  • "A Rationalist Manifesto", Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary Volume 18 (1992), pp. 53–88.
  • "Fumerton on Coherence Theories", Journal of Philosophical Research, vol. 19 (1994), pp. 104–108.
  • "Against Naturalized Epistemology", Midwest Studies in Philosophy, vol. 19 (1994), pp. 283–300.
  • "Sosa on Knowledge, Justification, and 'Aptness'", Philosophical Studies, vol. 78 (1995), pp. 207–220.
  • "Toward a Moderate Rationalism", Philosophical Topics, vol. 23 (1995), pp. 47–78.
  • "Plantinga on Knowledge and Proper Function", in Jonathan Kvanvig (ed.), Warrant in Contemporary Epistemology ( Rowman & Littlefield, 1996), pp. 47–71.
  • "Haack on Justification and Experience", Synthese.
  • "The Dialectic of Foundationalism and Coherentism", in the Blackwell Guide to Epistemology, ed. John Greco and Ernest Sosa, Blackwell.
  • "Toward a Defense of Empirical Foundationalism", in Michael DePaul (ed.), Resurrecting Old-Fashioned Foundationalism (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). With a reply to criticisms by John Pollock and Alvin Plantinga.
  • "Foundationalism and the External World", in James Tomberlin (ed.), Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 13 (2000).
  • Critical study of Evan Fales, A Defense of the Given, Nous.
  • "The Indispensability of Internalism", Philosophical Topics.
  • "Internalism and Externalism", in the Oxford Handbook of Epistemology, ed. Paul Moser.
  • Analytic Philosophy and the Nature of Thought (Unpublished)
  • What is it Like to be a Human (Instead of a Bat)? (Unpublished)

Encyclopedia and dictionary articles[edit]

  • "Externalism/Internalism" and "Problems of Induction", in E. Sosa & J. Dancy (eds.), A Companion To Epistemology (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992).
  • "A Priori/A Posteriori", "Coherence Theory of Truth" and "Broad, Charlie Dunbar" in The Cambridge Dictionary Of Philosophy, ed. Robert Audi, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
  • "Coherence Theory of Truth and Knowledge", in the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • "Epistemological Problems of Perception", in the on-line Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


  • Of Gilbert Harman, Thought, Philosophical Review, vol. 84 (1975), pp. 256–58.
  • Of R. M. Dworkin (ed.), Philosophy of Law; and Kenneth Kipnis (ed.), Philosophical Issues in Law, Teaching Philosophy, vol. 2 (1977–78), pp. 325–28.
  • Of James Cornman, Skepticism, Justification, and Explanation, Philosophical Review, vol. 91 (1982), pp. 612–15.
  • Of D. J. O'Connor and Brian Carr, Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, Teaching Philosophy, vol. 7 (1984), pp. 64–66.
  • Of Paul Ziff, Epistemic Analysis, Canadian Philosophical Reviews
  • Of Lorraine Code, Epistemic Responsibility, Philosophical Review.
  • Of Alan Goldman, Empirical Knowledge, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  • Of Robert Fogelin, Pyrrhonian Reflections on Knowledge and Justification, Times Literary Supplement.
  • Of Michael DePaul and William Ramsey (eds.), Rethinking Intuition, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
  • Of Paul Boghossian and Christopher Peacocke (eds.), New Essays on the A Priori, forthcoming in Mind.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Coherentist Theories of Epistemic Justification (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
  2. ^ Bernecker, Sven (2006). Reading Epistemology: Selected Texts with Interactive Commentary. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 139. ISBN 1-4051-2763-5. Retrieved January 28, 2011.
  3. ^

External links[edit]