No understanding without explanation

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3):510-515 (2013)
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Abstract

Scientific understanding, this paper argues, can be analyzed entirely in terms of a mental act of “grasping” and a notion of explanation. To understand why a phenomenon occurs is to grasp a correct explanation of the phenomenon. To understand a scientific theory is to be able to construct, or at least to grasp, a range of potential explanations in which that theory accounts for other phenomena. There is no route to scientific understanding, then, that does not go by way of scientific explanation.

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Michael Strevens
New York University

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