MUDdy understanding

Synthese 194 (4) (2017)


This paper focuses on two questions: Is understanding intimately bound up with accurately representing the world? Is understanding intimately bound up with downstream abilities? We will argue that the answer to both these questions is “yes”, and for the same reason-both accuracy and ability are important elements of orthogonal evaluative criteria along which understanding can be assessed. More precisely, we will argue that representational-accuracy and intelligibility are good-making features of a state of understanding. Interestingly, both evaluative claims have been defended by philosophers in the literature on understanding as the criterion of evaluation. We argue that proponents of both approaches have important insights and that, drawing on both their own observations and a few novel arguments, we can construct a more complete picture of understanding evaluation. We thus posit the theory of there being Multiple Understanding Dimensions. The main thing to note about our dualism regarding the evaluative criteria of understanding is that it accounts for the intuitions about cases underlying both previously held positions.

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Daniel Wilkenfeld
University of Pittsburgh

References found in this work

Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
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Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism.Hasok Chang - 2012 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science.

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Citations of this work

The Seductions of Clarity.C. Thi Nguyen - 2021 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 89:227-255.
Beyond Explanation: Understanding as Dependency Modeling.Finnur Dellsén - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (4):1261-1286.
Explicating Objectual Understanding: Taking Degrees Seriously.Christoph Baumberger - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 1:1-22.
Understanding as Compression.Daniel Wilkenfeld - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (10):2807-2831.

View all 15 citations / Add more citations

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