Understanding does not depend on (causal) explanation

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9 (2):18 (2019)
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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. 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 sense, afford understanding. In response, I propose an alternative epistemology of understanding, broad KAU, that takes cases of theoretical modelling into account.



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Philippe Verreault-Julien
Eindhoven University of Technology

Citations of this work

Descriptive understanding and prediction in COVID-19 modelling.Johannes Findl & Javier Suárez - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (4):1-31.
Understanding with Models.Philippe Verreault-Julien - 2019 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 12 (1):133-136.

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