The epistemic value of understanding

Philosophy of Science 76 (5):585-597 (2009)
This article analyzes the epistemic value of understanding and offers an account of the role of understanding in science. First, I discuss the objectivist view of the relation between explanation and understanding, defended by Carl Hempel and J. D. Trout. I challenge this view by arguing that pragmatic aspects of explanation are crucial for achieving the epistemic aims of science. Subsequently, I present an analysis of these pragmatic aspects in terms of ‘intelligibility’ and a contextual account of scientific understanding based on this notion. †To contact the author, please write to: Faculty of Philosophy, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e‐mail:
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/605795
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,545
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Scientific Explanation and the Sense of Understanding.J. D. Trout - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (2):212-233.
The Psychology of Scientific Explanation.J. D. Trout - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (3):564–591.
Models, Representation, and Mediation.Tarja Knuuttila - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1260-1271.
Spacetime Visualisation and the Intelligibility of Physical Theories.Henk W. de Regt - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 32 (2):243-265.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
Understanding Phenomena.Christoph Kelp - 2015 - Synthese 192 (12):3799-3816.
The Role of Explanation in Understanding.K. Khalifa - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):161-187.

View all 21 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Omniscienter: Beauty and Scientific Understanding.Peter Kosso - 2002 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (1):39 – 48.
Epistemic Value and Achievement.Daniel Whiting - 2012 - Ratio 25 (2):216-230.
No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
Discussion Note: Making Sense of Understanding.Henk W. de Regt - 2004 - Philosophy of Science 71 (1):98-109.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
225 ( #22,462 of 2,287,903 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #34,790 of 2,287,903 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature