Erkenntnis:1-24 (forthcoming)

Lewis Ross
London School of Economics
The notion of understanding occupies an increasingly prominent place in contemporary epistemology, philosophy of science, and moral theory. A central and ongoing debate about the nature of understanding is how it relates to the truth. In a series of influential contributions, Catherine Elgin has used a variety of familiar motivations for antirealism in philosophy of science to defend a non- factive theory of understanding. Key to her position are: (i) the fact that false theories can contribute to the upwards trajectory of scientific understanding, and (ii) the essential role of inaccurate idealisations in scientific research. Using Elgin’s arguments as a foil, I show that a strictly factive theory of understanding has resources with which to offer a unified response to both the problem of idealisations and the role of false theories in the upwards trajectory of scientific understanding. Hence, strictly factive theories of understanding are viable notwithstanding these forceful criticisms.
Keywords understanding  truth  knowledge  idealisation  scientific progress  Catherine Elgin  Scientific Realism  models  felicitous falsehoods  explanation
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-021-00380-2
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
True Enough.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2017 - Cambridge: MIT Press.
Individualism and the Mental.Tyler Burge - 1979 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 4 (1):73-122.

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