Synthese 191 (17):4169-4200 (2014)

There is a recent interest within both philosophy of science as well as within epistemology to provide a defensible account of understanding. In the present article I build on insights from previous work in attempt to provide an account of two related forms of understanding in terms of the ability to form rational intentions when using specific types of mental representations. I propose first that “understanding that X” requires that one form a representation of X and, further, that one must be capable of forming rational intentions using this representation across a range of conceivable conditions. I then propose that “understanding why X” requires that one possess a representation of a successful explanation for why X, and that one must be similarly capable of forming rational intentions using this representation across a range of conceivable conditions. I conclude the manuscript by reviewing objections and considering the way this account relates to other literature on explanation and understanding.
Keywords Understanding  Explanation  Causation  Unification  Mental representation  Rationality
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0521-3
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Logic of Explanation.Carl Hempel & Paul Oppenheim - 1948 - Philosophy of Science 15 (2):135-175.

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Citations of this work BETA

Theoretical Understanding in Science.Mark P. Newman - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
A Neuro-Cognitive Defense of the Unified Self.Ryan Smith - 2017 - Consciousness and Cognition 48:21-39.

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