Laurence BonJour

Last updated
Laurence BonJour
Born 31 August 1943
Era Contemporary philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic
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]

University of Washington public research university in Seattle, Washington, United States

The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington.


Education and career

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]

Macalester College liberal arts college in Saint Paul,  Minnesota, USA

Macalester College is a private liberal arts college in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Founded in 1874, Macalester is exclusively an undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 2,174 students in the fall of 2018 from 50 U.S. states, 4 U.S territories, the District of Columbia and 97 countries. It is currently a Forbes Top 100 College, and a Forbes Top 50 School for International Students. In 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked Macalester as 26th best liberal arts college in the United States, 16th for undergraduate teaching at a national liberal arts college, and 21st for best value at a national liberal arts college.

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.

Richard Rorty American philosopher

Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. Educated at the University of Chicago and Yale University, he had strong interests and training in both the history of philosophy and contemporary analytic philosophy, the latter of which came to comprise the main focus of his work at Princeton University in the 1960s. He subsequently came to reject the tradition of philosophy according to which knowledge involves correct representation of a world whose existence remains wholly independent of that representation. Rorty had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University. Among his most influential books are Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (1979), Consequences of Pragmatism (1982), and Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989).

Philosophical work

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

Epistemology A branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and scope of knowledge

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the theory of knowledge.

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

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).

Coherentism is the name given to a few philosophical theories in modern epistemology.

René Descartes 17th-century French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist

René Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. A native of the Kingdom of France, he spent about 20 years (1629–1649) of his life in the Dutch Republic after serving for a while in the Dutch States Army of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange and the Stadtholder of the United Provinces. He is generally considered one of the most notable intellectual figures of the Dutch Golden Age.

Foundationalism concerns philosophical theories of knowledge resting upon justified belief, or some secure foundation of certainty such as a conclusion inferred from a basis of sound premises. The main rival of the foundationalist theory of justification is the coherence theory of justification, whereby a body of knowledge, not requiring a secure foundation, can be established by the interlocking strength of its components, like a puzzle solved without prior certainty that each small region was solved correctly.



Ernest Sosa is an American philosopher primarily interested in epistemology. He is Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University since 2007, but spent most of his career at Brown University.


Jonathan Lee Kvanvig is Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis.

Alvin Plantinga American Christian philosopher

Alvin Carl Plantinga is a prominent American analytic philosopher who works primarily in the fields of logic, justification, philosophy of religion, and epistemology.

Encyclopedia and dictionary articles


See also

Related Research Articles

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