Understanding and Equivalent Reformulations

Philosophy of Science 88 (5):810-823 (2021)
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Abstract

Reformulating a scientific theory often leads to a significantly different way of understanding the world. Nevertheless, accounts of both theoretical equivalence and scientific understanding have neglected this important aspect of scientific theorizing. This essay provides a positive account of how reformulation changes our understanding. My account simultaneously addresses a serious challenge facing existing accounts of scientific understanding. These accounts have failed to characterize understanding in a way that goes beyond the epistemology of scientific explanation. By focusing on cases in which we have differences in understanding without differences in explanation, I show that understanding does not reduce to explanation.

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Josh Hunt
Syracuse University

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