Episteme:1-20 (forthcoming)

Federica Isabella Malfatti
University of Innsbruck
It is widely acknowledged in the literature in social epistemology that knowledge has a social dimension: we are epistemically dependent upon one another for most of what we know. Our knowledge can be, and very often is, grounded on the epistemic achievement of somebody else. But what about epistemic aims other than knowledge? What about understanding? Prominent authors argue that understanding is not social in the same way in which knowledge is. Others can put us in the position to understand, but when we understand something, this accomplishment is to be credited mainly if not entirely to us, as it is due to the successful exercise of our own cognitive abilities. In this paper, I show that the social dimension of understanding closely resembles the social dimension of knowledge. I distinguish between three different ways in which a subject can depend upon another subject for a certain epistemic good. I then argue that all these kinds of epistemic dependence apply to knowledge and understanding alike. If I am right, understanding is not an achievement to be credited to the single epistemic agent who understands.
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DOI 10.1017/epi.2021.14
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References found in this work BETA

Understanding Why.Alison Hills - 2015 - Noûs 49 (2):661-688.
No Understanding Without Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515.
Epistemic Dependence.John Hardwig - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (7):335-349.
Considered Judgment.Catherine Z. Elgin - 1999 - Princeton University Press.

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