Reflective equilibrium is a powerful and popular method of theory evaluation. This article argues that the judgments of coherence required by the method are unexplained by the going accounts of reflective equilibrium and that they are best understood as a species of judgments of beauty. It argues that the distinctive feature of judgments of beauty is that they are unprincipled and yet nevertheless possible and that judgments of coherence share this distinctive feature. This conclusion entails that reflective equilibrium is a partially aesthetic method of theory evaluation and that part of using the method is evaluating candidate theories by their beauty.

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