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Understanding, grasping and luck

Episteme 10 (1):1-17 (2013)

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  1. Explanation and the Nature of Scientific Knowledge.Kevin McCain - 2015 - Science & Education 24 (7-8):827-854.
    Explaining phenomena is a primary goal of science. Consequently, it is unsurprising that gaining a proper understanding of the nature of explanation is an important goal of science education. In order to properly understand explanation, however, it is not enough to simply consider theories of the nature of explanation. Properly understanding explanation requires grasping the relation between explanation and understanding, as well as how explanations can lead to scientific knowledge. This article examines the nature of explanation, its relation to understanding, (...)
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  • Understanding Without Justification or Belief.Finnur Dellsén - 2017 - Ratio 30 (3):239-254.
    In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest among epistemologists in the nature of understanding, with some authors arguing that understanding should replace knowledge as the primary focus of epistemology. But what is understanding? According to what is often called the standard view, understanding is a species of knowledge. Although this view has recently been challenged in various ways, even the critics of the standard view have assumed that understanding requires justification and belief. I argue that it requires (...)
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  • Environmental Luck and the Structure of Understanding.Kenneth Boyd - forthcoming - Episteme:1-15.
    Conventional wisdom holds that there is no lucky knowledge: if it is a matter of luck, in some relevant sense, that one’s belief that p is true, then one does not know that p. One sense of luck that is generally recognized to be incompatible with knowledge is environmental luck. While knowledge has traditionally been the primary interest of epistemologists, understanding has recently been receiving significant attention. While there is as of yet little consensus regarding a theory of understanding, one (...)
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  • Explicating Objectual Understanding: Taking Degrees Seriously.Christoph Baumberger - forthcoming - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie.
    The paper argues that an account of understanding should take the form of a Carnapian explication and acknowledge that understanding comes in degrees. An explication of objectual understanding is defended, which helps to make sense of the cognitive achievements and goals of science. The explication combines a necessary condition with three evaluative dimensions: An epistemic agent understands a subject matter by means of a theory only if the agent commits herself sufficiently to the theory of the subject matter, and to (...)
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  • Rational Understanding: Toward a Probabilistic Epistemology of Acceptability.Finnur Dellsén - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    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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  • What’s so Special About Empirical Adequacy?Sindhuja Bhakthavatsalam & Nancy Cartwright - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 7 (3):445-465.
    Empirical adequacy matters directly - as it does for antirealists - if we aim to get all or most of the observable facts right, or indirectly - as it does for realists - as a symptom that the claims we make about the theoretical facts are right. But why should getting the facts - either theoretical or empirical - right be required of an acceptable theory? Here we endorse two other jobs that good theories are expected to do: helping us (...)
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  • Scientific Progress: Knowledge Versus Understanding.Finnur Dellsén - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 56:72-83.
    What is scientific progress? On Alexander Bird’s epistemic account of scientific progress, an episode in science is progressive precisely when there is more scientific knowledge at the end of the episode than at the beginning. Using Bird’s epistemic account as a foil, this paper develops an alternative understanding-based account on which an episode in science is progressive precisely when scientists grasp how to correctly explain or predict more aspects of the world at the end of the episode than at the (...)
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  • Reductionism About Understanding Why.Insa Lawler - 2016 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 116 (2):229-236.
    Paulina Sliwa (2015) argues that knowing why p is necessary and sufficient for understanding why p. She tries to rebut recent attacks against the necessity and sufficiency claims, and explains the gradability of understanding why in terms of knowledge. I argue that her attempts do not succeed, but I indicate more promising ways to defend reductionism about understanding why throughout the discussion.
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  • What is Understanding? An Overview of Recent Debates in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science.Christoph Baumberger, Claus Beisbart & Georg Brun - 2017 - In Stephen Grimm Christoph Baumberger & Sabine Ammon (eds.), Explaining Understanding: New Perspectives from Epistemolgy and Philosophy of Science. Routledge. pp. 1-34.
    The paper provides a systematic overview of recent debates in epistemology and philosophy of science on the nature of understanding. We explain why philosophers have turned their attention to understanding and discuss conditions for “explanatory” understanding of why something is the case and for “objectual” understanding of a whole subject matter. The most debated conditions for these types of understanding roughly resemble the three traditional conditions for knowledge: truth, justification and belief. We discuss prominent views about how to construe these (...)
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  • A Noetic Theory of Understanding and Intuition as Sense-Maker.John Bengson - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):633-668.
    The notion of a non-sensory mental state or event that plays a prominent role in coming to understand, an epistemic achievement distinct from mere knowledge, featured prominently in historical writings on philosophy, and philosophical methodology. It is, however, completely absent from contemporary discussions of the subject. This paper argues that intuition plays an epistemic role in understanding, including philosophical understanding, and offers an explanation of how intuition manages to play this role, if and when it does. It is argued, subsequently, (...)
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  • If You Understand, You Won’T Be Lucky.Raphael van Riel - 2016 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 93 (2):196-211.
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  • Understanding Does Not Depend on (Causal) Explanation.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):18.
    One can find in the literature two sets of views concerning the relationship between understanding and explanation: that one understands only if 1) one has knowledge of causes and 2) that knowledge is provided by an explanation. Taken together, these tenets characterize what I call the narrow knowledge account of understanding. While the first tenet has recently come under severe attack, the second has been more resistant to change. I argue that we have good reasons to reject it on the (...)
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  • Understanding Understanding: An Epistemological Investigation.Mikael Janvid - 2014 - Philosophia 42 (4):971-985.
    Understanding has received growing interest from epistemologists in recent years, but no consensus regarding its epistemic properties has yet been reached. This paper extracts, but also rejects, candidates of epistemic properties for construing an epistemological model of understanding from the writings of epistemologists participating in the current discussion surrounding that state. On the basis of these results, a suggestion is put forward according to which understanding is a non-basic epistemic state of warrant rather than knowledge. It is argued that this (...)
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  • Testifying Understanding.Kenneth Boyd - 2017 - Episteme 14 (1):103-127.
    While it is widely acknowledged that knowledge can be acquired via testimony, it has been argued that understanding cannot. While there is no consensus about what the epistemic relationship of understanding consists in, I argue here that regardless of how understanding is conceived there are kinds of understanding that can be acquired through testimony: easy understanding and easy-s understanding. I address a number of aspects of understanding that might stand in the way of being able to acquire understanding through testimony, (...)
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  • Understanding as Explanatory Knowledge: The Case of Bjorken Scaling.Kareem Khalifa & Michael Gadomski - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):384-392.
    In this paper, we develop and refine the idea that understanding is a species of explanatory knowledge. Specifically, we defend the idea that S understands why p if and only if S knows that p, and, for some q, S’s true belief that q correctly explains p is produced/maintained by reliable explanatory evaluation. We then show how this model explains the reception of James Bjorken’s explanation of scaling by the broader physics community in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The (...)
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