Understanding does not depend on (causal) explanation

Philippe Verreault-Julien*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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 (narrow KAU). 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 basis of theoretical models that provide how-possibly explanations. These models, while they do not explain in the strict (narrow KAU) sense, afford understanding. In response, I propose an alternative epistemology of understanding, broad KAU, that takes cases of theoretical modelling into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalEuropean Journal for Philosophy of Science
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

I would like to thank audiences at the EIPE PhD seminar and the OZSW 2015 conference for helpful questions and comments. Special thanks also to Christopher Clarke, Zoé Evrard, James Grayot, and the anonymous referees of this journal for extensive and valuable suggestions on earlier versions of this article. This work was supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments I would like to thank audiences at the EIPE PhD seminar and the OZSW 2015 conference for helpful questions and comments. Special thanks also to Christopher Clarke, Zoé Evrard, James Grayot, and the anonymous referees of this journal for extensive and valuable suggestions on earlier versions of this article. This work was supported by the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Société et culture.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).

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