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  1. Backing Without Realism.Elanor Taylor - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (3):1295-1315.
    Facts about explanation are often taken as a guide to facts about metaphysics. Such inferences from explanation to metaphysics typically rely on two elements: explanatory realism, the view that it is a characteristic and necessary aspect of explanation to give information about metaphysical structure, and a backing model of explanation, according to which explanations are backed by supporting relations, such as causation. Combining explanatory realism with a backing model permits conclusions about metaphysics to follow straightforwardly from facts about explanation, and (...)
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  • Understanding Metaphorical Understanding (Literally).Michael T. Stuart & Daniel Wilkenfeld - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (3):1-20.
    Metaphors are found all throughout science: in published papers, working hypotheses, policy documents, lecture slides, grant proposals, and press releases. They serve different functions, but perhaps most striking is the way they enable understanding, of a theory, phenomenon, or idea. In this paper, we leverage recent advances on the nature of metaphor and the nature of understanding to explore how they accomplish this feat. We attempt to shift the focus away from the epistemic value of the content of metaphors, to (...)
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  • Peeking Inside the Black Box: A New Kind of Scientific Visualization.Michael T. Stuart & Nancy J. Nersessian - 2018 - Minds and Machines 29 (1):87-107.
    Computational systems biologists create and manipulate computational models of biological systems, but they do not always have straightforward epistemic access to the content and behavioural profile of such models because of their length, coding idiosyncrasies, and formal complexity. This creates difficulties both for modellers in their research groups and for their bioscience collaborators who rely on these models. In this paper we introduce a new kind of visualization that was developed to address just this sort of epistemic opacity. The visualization (...)
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  • Scientific Understanding in the Aharonov‐Bohm Effect.Elay Shech - 2022 - Theoria 88 (5):943-971.
    By appealing to resources found in the scientific understanding literature, I identify in what senses idealisations afford understanding in the context of the (magnetic) Aharonov-Bohm effect. Three types of concepts of understanding are discussed: understanding-what, which has to do with understanding a phenomenon; understanding-with, which has to do with understanding a scientific theory; and understanding-why, which has to do with the reason some phenomenon occurs. Consequently, I outline an account of understanding-with that is suggested by the historical controversy surrounding the (...)
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  • Understanding Phenomena: From Social to Collective?Federica Isabella Malfatti - forthcoming - Philosophical Issues.
    In making sense of the world, we typically cooperate, join forces, and draw on one another’s competence and expertise. A group or community in which there is a well-functioning division of cognitive-epistemic labor can achieve levels of understanding that a single agent who relies exclusively on her own capacities would probably never achieve. However, is understanding also collective? I.e., is understanding something that can be possessed by a group or community rather than by individuals? In this paper, I develop an (...)
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  • Do We Deserve Credit for Everything We Understand?Federica Isabella Malfatti - forthcoming - Episteme:1-20.
    It is widely acknowledged in the literature in social epistemology that knowledge has a social dimension: we are epistemically dependent upon one another for most of what we know. Our knowledge can be, and very often is, grounded on the epistemic achievement of somebody else. But what about epistemic aims other than knowledge? What about understanding? Prominent authors argue that understanding is not social in the same way in which knowledge is. Others can put us in the position to understand, (...)
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  • Hamilton's Rule: A Non-Causal Explanation?Vaios Koliofotis & Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 92:109-118.
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  • Is Verstehen Scientific Understanding?Kareem Khalifa - 2019 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 49 (4):282-306.
    Many have argued that the human sciences feature a unique form of understanding that is absent from the natural sciences. However, in the last decade or so, epistemologists and philosop...
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  • Descriptive understanding and prediction in COVID-19 modelling.Johannes Findl & Javier Suárez - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (4):1-31.
    COVID-19 has substantially affected our lives during 2020. Since its beginning, several epidemiological models have been developed to investigate the specific dynamics of the disease. Early COVID-19 epidemiological models were purely statistical, based on a curve-fitting approach, and did not include causal knowledge about the disease. Yet, these models had predictive capacity; thus they were used to ground important political decisions, in virtue of the understanding of the dynamics of the pandemic that they offered. This raises a philosophical question about (...)
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  • Understanding Scientific Progress: The Noetic Account.Finnur Dellsén - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):11249-11278.
    What is scientific progress? This paper advances an interpretation of this question, and an account that serves to answer it. Roughly, the question is here understood to concern what type of cognitive change with respect to a topic X constitutes a scientific improvement with respect to X. The answer explored in the paper is that the requisite type of cognitive change occurs when scientific results are made publicly available so as to make it possible for anyone to increase their understanding (...)
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  • Rational Understanding: Toward a Probabilistic Epistemology of Acceptability.Finnur Dellsén - 2019 - Synthese 198 (3):2475-2494.
    To understand something involves some sort of commitment to a set of propositions comprising an account of the understood phenomenon. Some take this commitment to be a species of belief; others, such as Elgin and I, take it to be a kind of cognitive policy. This paper takes a step back from debates about the nature of understanding and asks when this commitment involved in understanding is epistemically appropriate, or ‘acceptable’ in Elgin’s terminology. In particular, appealing to lessons from the (...)
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  • Would Disagreement Undermine Progress?Finnur Dellsén, Insa Lawler & James Norton - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    In recent years, several philosophers have argued that their discipline makes no progress (or not enough in comparison to the ‘hard sciences’). A key argument for this pessimistic position appeals to the purported fact that philosophers widely and systematically disagree on most major philosophical issues. In this paper, we take a step back from the debate about progress in philosophy specifically and consider the general question: How (if at all) would disagreement within a discipline undermine that discipline's progress? We reconstruct (...)
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  • Integrating Philosophy of Understanding with the Cognitive Sciences.Kareem Khalifa, Farhan Islam, J. P. Gamboa, Daniel Wilkenfeld & Daniel Kostić - 2022 - Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 16.
    We provide two programmatic frameworks for integrating philosophical research on understanding with complementary work in computer science, psychology, and neuroscience. First, philosophical theories of understanding have consequences about how agents should reason if they are to understand that can then be evaluated empirically by their concordance with findings in scientific studies of reasoning. Second, these studies use a multitude of explanations, and a philosophical theory of understanding is well suited to integrating these explanations in illuminating ways.
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