Understanding, Truth, and Epistemic Goals

Philosophy of Science (forthcoming)

Kareem Khalifa
Middlebury College
Several argue that truth cannot be science’s sole epistemic goal, for it would fail to do justice to several scientific practices that advance understanding. I challenge these arguments, but only after making a small concession: science’s sole epistemic goal is not truth as such; rather, its goal is finding true answers to relevant questions. Using examples from the natural and social sciences, I then show that scientific understanding’s epistemically valuable features are either true answers to relevant questions or a means thereof.
Keywords understanding  truth  questions  models  idealization  approximation  epistemic value
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