Understanding, Truth, and Epistemic Goals

Philosophy of Science 87 (5):944-956 (2020)
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Several argue that truth cannot be science’s sole epistemic goal, for it would fail to do justice to several scientific practices that advance understanding. I challenge these arguments, but only after making a small concession: science’s sole epistemic goal is not truth as such; rather, its goal is finding true answers to relevant questions. Using examples from the natural and social sciences, I then show that scientific understanding’s epistemically valuable features are either true answers to relevant questions or a means thereof.

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Kareem Khalifa
University of California, Los Angeles


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