Epistemic value and achievement

Ratio 25 (2):216-230 (2012)
Abstract
Knowledge seems to be a good thing, or at least better than epistemic states that fall short of it, such as true belief. Understanding too seems to be a good thing, perhaps better even than knowledge. In a number of recent publications, Duncan Pritchard tries to account for the value of understanding by claiming that understanding is a cognitive achievement and that achievements in general are valuable. In this paper, I argue that coming to understand something need not be an achievement, and so Pritchard's explanation of understanding's value fails. Next, I point out that Pritchard's is just one of many attempts to account for the value of an epistemic state – whether it be understanding, knowledge, or whatever – by appeal to the notion of achievement or, more generally, the notion of success because of ability. Tentatively, I offer reasons to be sceptical about the prospects of any such account
Keywords epistemic value  epistemic normativity  virtue-theory  understanding  knowledge
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Martijn Blaauw (2008). Epistemic Value, Achievements, and Questions. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 82 (1):43-57.
Duncan Pritchard (2009). Knowledge, Understanding and Epistemic Value. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 84 (64):19-.
Kevin Morris (2012). A Defense of Lucky Understanding. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (2):357-371.
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