The Uses of Truth: Is There Room for Reconciliation of Factivist and Non-Factivist Accounts of Scientific Understanding?

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science:1-11 (forthcoming)
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One of the most lively debates on scientific understanding is standardly presented as a controversy between the so-called factivists, who argue that understanding implies truth, and the non-factivists whose position is that truth is neither necessary nor sufficient for understanding. A closer look at the debate, however, reveals that the borderline between factivism and non-factivism is not as clear-cut as it looks at first glance. Some of those who claim to be quasi-factivists come suspiciously close to the position of their opponents, the non-factivist, from whom they pretend to differ. The non-factivist, in turn, acknowledges that some sort of ‘answering to the facts’ is indispensable for understanding. This paper discusses an example of convergence of the initially rival positions in the debate on understanding and truth: the use of the same substitute for truth by the quasi-factivist Kareem Khalifa and the non-factivists Henk de Regt and Victor Gijsbers. It is argued that the use of ‘effectiveness’ as a substitute for truth by both parties is not an occasional coincidence of terms, it rather speaks about a deeper similarity which have important implications for understanding the essential features of scientific understanding.



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Lilia Gurova
New Bulgarian University

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References found in this work

Making it Explicit.Isaac Levi & Robert B. Brandom - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):145.
True enough.Catherine Z. Elgin - 2004 - Philosophical Issues 14 (1):113–131.
Is understanding a species of knowledge?Stephen R. Grimm - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (3):515-535.
Recent Work in the Epistemology of Understanding.Michael Hannon - 2021 - American Philosophical Quarterly 58 (3):269-290.

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