Lucky understanding without knowledge

Synthese 191 (5):1-15 (2014)
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Can one still have understanding in situations that involve the kind of epistemic luck that undermines knowledge? Kvanvig (The value of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding, 2003; in: Haddock A, Miller A, Pritchard D (eds) Epistemic value, 2009a; in: Haddock A, Miller A, Pritchard D (eds) Epistemic value, 2009b) says yes, Prichard (Grazer Philos Stud 77:325–339, 2008; in: O’Hear A (ed) Epistemology, 2009; in: Pritchard D, Millar A, Haddock A (eds) The nature and value of knowledge: three investigations, 2010) say sometimes, DePaul and Grimm (Philos Phenomenol Res 74:498–514, 2007) and Grimm (Br J Philos Sci 57:515–535, 2006; in: Bernecker S, Pritchard D (eds) The Routledge companion to epistemology, 2011), Kvanvig’s critics, say no. The cases put forth by Kvanvig’s critics share a common feature, which seems to drive the intuition that understanding can’t be lucky: the fact that the information that makes up the individual’s understanding comes exclusively from a bad source. I formulate a case that lacks this feature, drawing on the fact that understanding produced from scientific inquiry is often produced by collaboration. I argue that my case provides good evidence that understanding is not a species of knowledge



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Yasha Rohwer
University of Missouri, Columbia