Work on representing women's voices in ethics has produced a vision of moral understanding profoundly subversive of the traditional philosophical conception of moral knowledge. 1 explicate this alternative moral “epistemology,” identify how it challenges the prevailing view, and indicate some of its resources for a liberatory feminist critique of philosophical ethics.
While social epistemologists have recently begun addressing questions about whether groups can possess beliefs or knowledge, little has yet been said about whether groups can properly be said to possess understanding. Here I want to make some progress on this question by considering two possible accounts of group understanding, modeled on accounts of group belief and knowledge: a deflationary account, according to which a group understands just in case most or all of its members understand, and an inflationary (...) account, according to which a group’s understanding does not depend solely on whether its members understand. I argue that both accounts face problems. The deflationary account has two such problems: aggregation problems that are familiar from discussions of group belief, and the problem of different bases, wherein members possess understanding for different but consistent reasons. The inflationary account faces what I call the problem of distributed grasping: while it is widely accepted that understanding requires a kind of “grasping”, it is hard to make sense of how this requirement could be met at the group level while not necessarily being met by any individual member. Despite its problems, I make a case for the inflationary account. This will require addressing the problem of distributed grasping: to do this, I propose a different way of thinking about the grasping relation at the group level, such that it is constituted by a dependency relationship between members. (shrink)
Standing is a peculiar norm, allowing for deflecting that is rejecting offhand and without deliberation interventions such as directives. Directives are speech acts that aim to give directive-reasons, which are reason to do as the directive directs because of the directive. Standing norms, therefore, provide for deflecting directives regardless of validity or the normative weight of the rejected directive. The logic of the normativity of standing is, therefore, not the logic of invalidating directives or of competing with directive-reasons but of (...) ‘exclusionary permission’. That is, standing norms provide for permission to exclude from practical deliberation directive-reasons if given without the requisite standing, regardless of their normative weight. As such, standing is a type of second-order norm. Numerous everyday practices involve the deflection of directives, such as pervasive practices of deflecting hypocritical and officious directives. Of various possible models, the one that best captures the normative structure of these practices of deflection is the standing model. Accordingly, the normativity of standing is pervasive in our everyday practices. Establishing that standing, although a neglected philosophical idea, is a significant and independent normative concept. (shrink)
Knowledge of many facts does not amount to understanding unless one also has a sense of how the facts fit together. This aspect of coherence among scientific observations and theories is usually overlooked in summaries of scientific method, since the emphasis is on justification and verification rather than on understanding. I argue that the inter-theoretic coherence, as the hallmark of understanding, is an essential and informative component of any accurate description of science.
This study examines the conflation of terms such as “knowledge” and “understanding” in peer-reviewed literature, and tests the hypothesis that little current research clearly distinguishes between importantly distinct epistemic states. Two sets of data are presented from papers published in the journal Public Understanding of Science. In the first set, the digital text analysis tool, Voyant, is used to analyze all papers published in 2014 for the use of epistemic success terms. In the second set of data, all (...) papers published in Public Understanding of Science from 2010–2015 are systematically analyzed to identify instances in which epistemic states are empirically measured. The results indicate that epistemic success terms are inconsistently defined, and that measurement of understanding, in particular, is rarely achieved in public understanding of science studies. We suggest that more diligent attention to measuring understanding, as opposed to mere knowledge, will increase efficacy of scientific outreach and communication efforts. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a well-known theory of belief reports from an important objection. The theory is Russellianism, sometimes also called `neo-Russellianism', `Millianism', `the direct reference theory', `the "Fido"-Fido theory', or `the naive theory'. The objection concernssubstitution of co-referring names in belief sentences. Russellianism implies that any two belief sentences, that differ only in containing distinct co-referring names, express the same proposition (in any given context). Since `Hesperus' and `Phosphorus' both refer to the planet Venus, this view implies that (...) all utterances of (1) and.. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Testimony from victims of gendered violence is often wrongly disbelieved. This paper explores a way to address this problem by developing a phenomenological approach to testimony. Guided by the concept of ‘disclosedness’, a tripartite analysis of testimony as an affective, embodied, communicative act is developed. Affect indicates how scepticism may arise through the social moods that often attune agents to victims’ testimony. The embodiment of meaning suggests testimony should not be approached as an assertion, but as a process of (...) ‘articulating an understanding’. This account is deepened in the discussion of testimony as a communicative act. It is argued that testimony must be considered as a relational whole, and thus our aim in receiving victims’ testimony should be to honour the relational conditions under which the truth of testimony can be heard. Approaching testimony as the collaborative process of enabling an understanding to be articulated can enhance our conception of gendered violence, whilst also better serving the victims of gendered violence by helping to overcome the lack of trust and excessive scepticism with which victims’ testimony is often met. (shrink)
Husserl’s Logical Investigations has undergone explicitly conceptualist and non-conceptualist interpretations. For Richard Cobb-Stevens, he has extended understanding into the domain of sensuous intuition, leaving no simple perceptions that are actually separated from higher-level understanding. According to Kevin Mulligan, Husserl does in fact sunder nominal and propositional seeing from the simple or straightforward—and yet interpretative—seeing of particulars. To see simply is not to exercise an individual meaning or a general concept. Arguing that Logical Investigations provides evidence for both views, (...) I endeavour to show that the account of perceptual consciousness in Husserl’s subsequent work is far more clear and consistent. It is one of growing beyond the situation portrayed by Mulligan and into the one explicated by Cobb-Stevens. Though they are notionally separable, pre-conceptual syntheses at the passive and noematic levels are inevitably interwoven with conceptual and categorial articulations in a developed consciousness. (shrink)
If understanding is factive, the propositions that express an understanding are true. I argue that a factive conception of understanding is unduly restrictive. It neither reflects our practices in ascribing understanding nor does justice to contemporary science. For science uses idealizations and models that do not mirror the facts. Strictly speaking, they are false. By appeal to exemplification, I devise a more generous, flexible conception of understanding that accommodates science, reflects our practices, and shows a (...) sufficient but not slavish sensitivity to the facts. (shrink)
Understanding the Infinite is a loosely connected series of essays on the nature of the infinite in mathematics. The chapters contain much detail, most of which is interesting, but the reader is not given many clues concerning what concepts and ideas are relevant for later developments in the book. There are, however, many technical cross-references, so the reader can expect to spend much time flipping backward and forward.
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. (shrink)
A model of writing in cognitive development, Understanding the Representational Mind synthesizes the burgeoning literature on the child’s theory of mind to provide an integrated account of children’s understanding of representational and mental processes, which is crucial in their acquisition of our commonsense psychology. Perner describes experimental work on children’s acquisition of a theory of mind and representation, offers a theoretical account of this acquisition, and gives examples of how the increased sophistication in children’s theory of mind improves (...) their understanding of social interaction and how, in the case of autistic children, an impairment results in social ineptitude. He analyzes the concepts of representation and metarepresentation as they appear in current discussion in the philosophy of cognitive science and explains how the unfolding of mental representation enables infants to comprehend change over time, engage in pretence, and use representational systems like pictures and language. Perner goes on to show that around age four children become able to understand the representational nature of pictures and language and to distinguish appearance from reality. Introducing basic distinctions in philosophy of mind for characterizing the mental, Perner discusses differences in how commonsense and cognitive psychology view the mind. Tracing the onset of a commonsense psychology in the social and emotional awareness of early infancy, he reveals how the child begins to take a cognitive, representational view of the mind with repercussions for children’s episodic memory, self control, and their ability to engage in deception. Perner concludes by describing the observed developmental changes as a case of theory change And contrasts his thesis with competing proposals. Josef Perner is Lecturer in Experimental Psychology at Sussex University, Brighton, England. (shrink)
As a committee of the National Academy of Engineering recognized, ethics education should foster the ability of students to analyze complex decision situations and ill-structured problems. Building on the NAE’s insights, we report about an innovative teaching approach that has two main features: first, it places the emphasis on deliberation and on self-directed, problem-based learning in small groups of students; and second, it focuses on understanding ill-structured problems. The first innovation is motivated by an abundance of scholarly research that (...) supports the value of deliberative learning practices. The second results from a critique of the traditional case-study approach in engineering ethics. A key problem with standard cases is that they are usually described in such a fashion that renders the ethical problem as being too obvious and simplistic. The practitioner, by contrast, may face problems that are ill-structured. In the collaborative learning environment described here, groups of students use interactive and web-based argument visualization software called “AGORA-net: Participate – Deliberate!”. The function of the software is to structure communication and problem solving in small groups. Students are confronted with the task of identifying possible stakeholder positions and reconstructing their legitimacy by constructing justifications for these positions in the form of graphically represented argument maps. The argument maps are then presented in class so that these stakeholder positions and their respective justifications become visible and can be brought into a reasoned dialogue. Argument mapping provides an opportunity for students to collaborate in teams and to develop critical thinking and argumentation skills. (shrink)
This article offers a critique and reformulation of the concept of empathy as it is currently used in the context of medicine and medical care. My argument is three pronged. First, that the instrumentalised notion of empathy that has been common within medicine erases the term’s rich epistemological history as a special form of understanding, even a vehicle of social inquiry, and has instead substituted an account unsustainably structured according to the polarisations of modernity. I suggest that understanding (...) empathy by examining its origins within the phenomenological tradition, as a mode of intersubjective understanding, offers a different and profitable approach. Secondly, I argue that the appropriation of empathy in medicine means that, ironically, empathy can function as a technique of pastoral power, in which virtue, knowledge and authority remain with the doctor. And thirdly, empathy is in danger of being resourced as a substitute for equity and funding within health systems. I conclude however with hope for the productive possibilities for empathy. (shrink)
One of the central aims of the philosophical analysis of mathematical explanation is to determine how one can distinguish explanatory proofs from non-explanatory proofs. In this paper, I take a closer look at the current status of the debate, and what the challenges for the philosophical analysis of explanatory proofs are. In order to provide an answer to these challenges, I suggest we start from analysing the concept understanding. More precisely, I will defend four claims: understanding is a (...) condition for explanation, unificatory understanding is a type of explanatory understanding, unificatory understanding is valuable in mathematics, and mathematical proofs can contribute to unificatory understanding. As a result, in a context where the epistemic aim is to unify mathematical results, I argue it is fruitful to make a distinction between proofs based on their explanatory value. (shrink)
I examine the passages where Aristotle maintains that intellectual activity employs φαντάσματα (images) and argue that he requires awareness of the relevant images. This, together with Aristotle’s claims about the universality of understanding, gives us reason to reject the interpretation of Michael Wedin and Victor Caston, on which φαντάσματα serve as the material basis for thinking. I develop a new interpretation by unpacking the comparison Aristotle makes to the role of diagrams in doing geometry. In theoretical understanding of (...) mathematical and natural beings, we usually need to employ appropriate φαντάσματα in order to grasp explanatory connections. Aristotle does not, however, commit himself to thinking that images are required for exercising all theoretical understanding. Understanding immaterial things, in particular, may not involve employing phantasmata. Thus the connection that Aristotle makes between images and understanding does not rule out the possibility that human intellectual activity could occur apart from the body. (shrink)
Paulina Sliwa (2015) argues that knowing why p is necessary and sufficient for understanding why p. She tries to rebut recent attacks against the necessity and sufficiency claims, and explains the gradability of understanding why in terms of knowledge. I argue that her attempts do not succeed, but I indicate more promising ways to defend reductionism about understanding why throughout the discussion.
Understanding is a central aim of science and highly important in present-day society. But what precisely is scientific understanding and how can it be achieved? This book answers these questions, through philosophical analysis and historical case studies, and presents a philosophical theory of scientific understanding that highlights its contextual nature.
In recent years there has been a resurgence of interest among epistemologists in the nature of understanding, with some authors arguing that understanding should replace knowledge as the primary focus of epistemology. But what is understanding? According to what is often called the standard view, understanding is a species of knowledge. Although this view has recently been challenged in various ways, even the critics of the standard view have assumed that understanding requires justification and belief. (...) I argue that it requires neither. If sound, these arguments have important upshots not only for the nature of understanding, but also for its distinctive epistemic value and its role in contemporary epistemology. (shrink)
The literature on the nature of understanding can be divided into two broad camps. Explanationists believe that it is knowledge of explanations that is key to understanding. In contrast, their manipulationist rivals maintain that understanding essentially involves an ability to manipulate certain representations. The aim of this paper is to provide a novel knowledge based account of understanding. More specifically, it proposes an account of maximal understanding of a given phenomenon in terms of fully comprehensive (...) and maximally well-connected knowledge of it and of degrees of understanding in terms of approximations to such knowledge. It is completed by a contextualist semantics for outright attributions of understanding according to which an attribution of understanding is true of one just in case one knows enough about it to perform some contextually determined task. It is argued that this account has an edge over both its explanationist and manipulationist competitors. (shrink)
What is the relationship between understanding and knowing? This paper offers a defence of reductionism about understanding: the view that instances of understanding reduce to instances of knowing. I argue that knowing is both necessary and sufficient for understanding. I then outline some advantages of reductionism.
I argue that understanding why p involves a kind of intellectual know how and differsfrom both knowledge that p and knowledge why p (as they are standardly understood).I argue that understanding, in this sense, is valuable.
Claims pertaining to understanding are made in a variety of contexts and ways. As a result, few in the philosophical literature have made an attempt to precisely characterize the state that is y understanding x. This paper builds an account that does just that. The account is motivated by two main observations. First, understanding x is somehow related to being able to manipulate x. Second, understanding is a mental phenomenon, and so what manipulations are required to (...) be an understander must only be mental manipulations. Combining these two insights, the paper builds an account (URM) of understanding as a certain representational capacity—specifically, understanding x involves possessing a representation of x that could be manipulated in useful ways. By tying understanding to representation, the account correctly identifies that understanding is a fundamentally cognitive achievement. However, by also demanding that which representations count as understanding-conferring be determined by their practical effects, URM captures the insight that understanding is vitally connected to practice. URM is fully general, and can apply equally well to understanding states of affairs, understanding events, and even understanding people and works of art. The ultimate test of URM is its applicability in actual scientific and philosophical discourse. To that end the paper discusses the importance of understanding in the philosophy of science, psychology, and computer science. (shrink)
This work consists of two parts. Part I will be a contribution to a philo- sophical discussion of the nature of causal explanation. It will present my contrastive counterfactual theory of causal explanation and show how it can be used to deal with a number of problems facing theories of causal explanation. Part II is a contribution to a discussion of the na- ture of interest explanation in social studies of science. The aim is to help to resolve some controversies (...) concerning interest explanation by explicating the concept of interest and its explanatory uses by using the account of explanation developed in Part I. (shrink)
Moral understanding is a valuable epistemic and moral good. I argue that moral understanding is the ability to know right from wrong. I defend the account against challenges from nonreductionists, such as Alison Hills, who argue that moral understanding is distinct from moral knowledge. Moral understanding, she suggests, is constituted by a set of abilities: to give and follow moral explanations and to draw moral conclusions. I argue that Hills’s account rests on too narrow a conception (...) of moral understanding. Among other things, it cannot account for the importance of first-personal experience for achieving moral understanding. (shrink)
The ancient question of what a good life consists in is currently the focus of intense debate. There are two aspects to this debate: the first concerns how the concept of a good life is to be understood; the second concerns what kinds of life fall within the extension of this concept. In this paper, I will attend only to the first, conceptual aspect and not to the second, substantive aspect. More precisely, I will address the preliminary, underlying question of (...) how to understand what it is in general for something to be good for someone, from which an understanding of the more particular concept of a good life may be derived. (shrink)
Theories of children's developing understanding of mind tend to emphasize either individualistic processes of theory formation, maturation, or introspection, or the process of enculturation. However, such theories must be able to account for the accumulating evidence of the role of social interaction in the development of social understanding. We propose an alternative account, according to which the development of children's social understanding occurs within triadic interaction involving the child's experience of the world as well as communicative interaction (...) with others about their experience and beliefs (Chapman 1991; 1999). It is through such triadic interaction that children gradually construct knowledge of the world as well as knowledge of other people. We contend that the extent and nature of the social interaction children experience will influence the development of children's social understanding. Increased opportunity to engage in cooperative social interaction and exposure to talk about mental states should facilitate the development of social understanding. We review evidence suggesting that children's understanding of mind develops gradually in the context of social interaction. Therefore, we need a theory of development in this area that accords a fundamental role to social interaction, yet does not assume that children simply adopt socially available knowledge but rather that children construct an understanding of mind within social interaction. Key Words: language; Piaget; social interaction; theories of mind; Vygotsky; Wittgenstein. (shrink)
Understanding Computers and Cognition presents an important and controversial new approach to understanding what computers do and how their functioning is related to human language, thought, and action. While it is a book about computers, Understanding Computers and Cognition goes beyond the specific issues of what computers can or can't do. It is a broad-ranging discussion exploring the background of understanding in which the discourse about computers and technology takes place. Understanding Computers and Cognition is (...) written for a wide audience, not just those professionals involved in computer design or artificial intelligence. It represents an important contribution to the ongoing discussion about what it means to be a machine, and what it means to be human. Book jacket. (shrink)
Simple idealized models seem to provide more understanding than opaque, complex, and hyper-realistic models. However, an increasing number of scientists are going in the opposite direction by utilizing opaque machine learning models to make predictions and draw inferences, suggesting that scientists are opting for models that have less potential for understanding. Are scientists trading understanding for some other epistemic or pragmatic good when they choose a machine learning model? Or are the assumptions behind why minimal models provide (...)understanding misguided? In this paper, using the case of deep neural networks, I argue that it is not the complexity or black box nature of a model that limits how much understanding the model provides. Instead, it is a lack of scientific and empirical evidence supporting the link that connects a model to the target phenomenon that primarily prohibits understanding. (shrink)
Bioethicists tend to focus on the individual as the relevant moral subject. Yet, in highly complex and socially differentiated healthcare systems a number of social groups, each committed to a common cause, are involved in medical decisions and sometimes even try to influence bioethical discourses according to their own agenda. We argue that the significance of these collective actors is unjustifiably neglected in bioethics. The growing influence of collective actors in the fields of biopolitics and bioethics leads us to pursue (...) the question as to how collective moral claims can be characterized and justified. We pay particular attention to elaborating the circumstances under which collective actors can claim ‘collective agency.’ Specifically, we develop four normative-practical criteria for collective agency in order to determine the conditions that must be given to reasonably speak of ‘collective autonomy’. For this purpose, we analyze patient organizations and families, which represent two quite different kinds of groups and can both be conceived as collective actors of high relevance for bioethical practice. Finally, we discuss some practical implications and explain why the existence of a shared practice of trust is of immediate normative relevance in this respect. (shrink)
In this book, Scott Soames illuminates the notion of truth and the role it plays in our ordinary thought as well as in our logical, philosophical, and scientific theories. Soames aims to integrate and deepen the most significant insights on truth from a variety of sources. He powerfully brings together the best technical work and the most important philosophical reflection on truth and shows how each can illuminate the other. Investigating such questions as whether we need a truth predicate at (...) all, what theoretical tasks it allows us to accomplish, and how we are to understand the content of any predicate capable of accomplishing these tasks, Soames organizes his discussion into three parts. Part I addresses crucial foundational issues as it identifies the bearers of truth, provides a basis for distinguishing truth from other notions, and formulates positive responses to well-known forms of truth-skepticism. Part II explicates the formal theories of Alfred Tarski and Saul Kripke and evaluates the philosophical significance of their work. It discusses their treatments of the Liar paradox, the relationship between truth and proof, the notion of a partially defined predicate, the concepts of logical truth and logical consequence, and the connection between truth and meaning. Part III extends important lessons drawn from Tarski and Kripke into new domains: vague predicates, the Sorites paradox, and the development of a larger, deflationary perspective on truth. Throughout the book, Soames examines a wide range of deflationary theories of truth, and attempts to separate what is correct and worth preserving in them from what is not. In doing so, he seeks to clear up many of the most significant philosophical doubts about truth. Written for a general audience while offering engaging material to the specialist, this rich study will be profitably read by both. (shrink)
We propose that the crucial difference between human cognition and that of other species is the ability to participate with others in collaborative activities with shared goals and intentions: shared intentionality. Participation in such activities requires not only especially powerful forms of intention reading and cultural learning, but also a unique motivation to share psychological states with others and unique forms of cognitive representation for doing so. The result of participating in these activities is species-unique forms of cultural cognition and (...) evolution, enabling everything from the creation and use of linguistic symbols to the construction of social norms and individual beliefs to the establishment of social institutions. In support of this proposal we argue and present evidence that great apes understand the basics of intentional action, but they still do not participate in activities involving joint intentions and attention. Human children's skills of shared intentionality develop gradually during the first 14 months of life as two ontogenetic pathways intertwine: the general ape line of understanding others as animate, goal-directed, and intentional agents; and a species-unique motivation to share emotions, experience, and activities with other persons. The developmental outcome is children's ability to construct dialogic cognitive representations, which enable them to participate in earnest in the collectivity that is human cognition. Key Words: collaboration; cooperation; cultural learning; culture; evolutionary psychology; intentions; shared intentionality; social cognition; social learning; theory of mind; joint attention. (shrink)
Recently, it has been debated as to whether understanding is a species of explanatory knowledge. Those who deny this claim frequently argue that understanding, unlike knowledge, can be lucky. In this paper I argue that current arguments do not support this alleged compatibility between understanding and epistemic luck. First, I argue that understanding requires reliable explanatory evaluation, yet the putative examples of lucky understanding underspecify the extent to which subjects possess this ability. In the course (...) of defending this claim, I also provide a new account of the kind of ‘grasping’ taken to be central to understanding. Second, I show that putative examples of lucky understanding unwittingly deploy a kind of luck that is compatible with knowledge. Finally, appealing to a number of works on explanation and its attendant epistemology, I argue that alleged instances of lucky understanding that overcome these two obstacles will invariably violate certain norms of explanatory inquiry – our paradigmatic understanding-oriented practice. By contrast, knowledge of the same information is immune to these criticisms. Consequently, if understanding is environmentally lucky, it is always inferior to the understanding that a corresponding case of knowledge would provide. (shrink)
Moral understanding is a species of knowledge. Understanding why an action is wrong, for example, amounts to knowing why the action is wrong. The claim that moral understanding is immune to luck while moral knowledge is not does not withstand scrutiny; nor does the idea that there is something deep about understanding for there are different degrees of understanding. It is also mistaken to suppose that grasping is a distinct psychological state that accompanies understanding. (...) To understand why something is the case is to grasp or see why something is the case and grasping and seeing are ways of knowing. (shrink)
We argue that theory-of-mind (ToM) approaches, such as “theory theory” and “simulation theory”, are both problematic and not needed. They account for neither our primary and pervasive way of engaging with others nor the true basis of our folk psychological understanding, even when narrowly construed. Developmental evidence shows that young infants are capable of grasping the purposeful intentions of others through the perception of bodily movements, gestures, facial expressions etc. Trevarthen’s notion of primary intersubjectivity can provide a theoretical framework (...) for understanding these capabilities and his notion of secondary intersubjectivity shows the importance of pragmatic contexts for infants starting around one year of age. The recent neuroscience of resonance systems (i.e., mirror neurons, shared representations) also supports this view. These ideas are worked out in the context of an embodied “Interaction Theory” of social cognition. Still, for more sophisticated intersubjective interactions in older children and adults, one might argue that some form of ToM is required. This thought is defused by appeal to narrative competency and the Narrative Practice Hypothesis (or NPH). We propose that repeated encounters with narratives of a distinctive kind is the normal route through which children acquire an understanding of the forms and norms that enable them to make sense of actions in terms of reasons. A potential objection to this hypothesis is that it presupposes ToM abilities. Interaction Theory is deployed once again to answer this by providing an alternative approach to understanding basic narrative competency and its development. (shrink)
Jonathan Kvanvig has argued that “objectual” understanding, i.e. the understanding we have of a large body of information, cannot be reduced to explanatory concepts. In this paper, I show that Kvanvig fails to establish this point, and then propose a framework for reducing objectual understanding to explanatory understanding.
ABSTRACT The delicate question of teaching ethics in compulsory school regained urgency in Sweden in 2013 when national tests were introduced in religious education, of which ethics is a part. In this article, a variety of ethical competences that teachers want their students to develop are presented, based on group interviews with 46 teachers. Grounded theory analyses show four main categories of ethical competence—to understand, to act, to verbalize and to persevere—which furthermore differ in what they are being directed towards. (...) In addition, the categories are interpreted in relation to the ethical voices of Benhabib, Nussbaum, Løgstrup and Singer. The study shows that teachers view ethical competence as a combination of specific competences and certain directions that these competences work in defence of, indicating a broader perspective than the one shown in the national syllabus, which in turn supports previous research emphasizing teachers’ nuanced understanding of ethical concepts. (shrink)
Recently, several authors have argued that scientific understanding should be a new topic of philosophical research. In this article, I argue that the three most developed accounts of understanding--Grimm's, de Regt's, and de Regt and Dieks's--can be replaced by earlier accounts of scientific explanation without loss. Indeed, in some cases, such replacements have clear benefits.
This book discusses the notion that quantum gravity may represent the "breakdown" of spacetime at extremely high energy scales. If spacetime does not exist at the fundamental level, then it has to be considered "emergent", in other words an effective structure, valid at low energy scales. The author develops a conception of emergence appropriate to effective theories in physics, and shows how it applies (or could apply) in various approaches to quantum gravity, including condensed matter approaches, discrete approaches, and loop (...) quantum gravity. (shrink)
From antiquity to the end of the twentieth century, philosophical discussions of understanding remained undeveloped, guided by a 'received view' that takes understanding to be nothing more than knowledge of an explanation. More recently, however, this received view has been criticized, and bold new philosophical proposals about understanding have emerged in its place. In this book, Kareem Khalifa argues that the received view should be revised but not abandoned. In doing so, he clarifies and answers the most (...) central questions in this burgeoning field of philosophical research: what kinds of cognitive abilities are involved in understanding? What is the relationship between the understanding that explanations provide and the understanding that experts have of broader subject matters? Can there be understanding without explanation? How can one understand something on the basis of falsehoods? Is understanding a species of knowledge? What is the value of understanding? (shrink)
While it is widely acknowledged that knowledge can be acquired via testimony, it has been argued that understanding cannot. While there is no consensus about what the epistemic relationship of understanding consists in, I argue here that regardless of how understanding is conceived there are kinds of understanding that can be acquired through testimony: easy understanding and easy-s understanding. I address a number of aspects of understanding that might stand in the way of (...) being able to acquire understanding through testimony, focusing on understanding ’s paradigmatic form and what it means to say that in order to understand something you need to “grasp” some information or the relationship between bits of information. I argue that in cases of both easy and easy-s understanding, no aspect of understanding stands in the way of it being able to acquire it through testimony. As a result, while not all understanding be acquired through testimony in all instances and for all subjects, this failure of acquisition is only a product of the complexity of the relevant information or one’s unfamiliarity with it, and not a product of the epistemic relationship of understanding. (shrink)
Despite playing an important role in epistemology, philosophy of science, and more recently in moral philosophy and aesthetics, the nature of understanding is still much contested. One attractive framework attempts to reduce understanding to other familiar epistemic states. This paper explores and develops a methodology for testing such reductionist theories before offering a counterexample to a recently defended variant on which understanding reduces to what an agent knows.
This edited collection is the first of its kind to explore the view called perspectivism in philosophy of science. The book brings together an array of essays that reflect on the methodological promises and scientific challenges of perspectivism in a variety of fields such as physics, biology, cognitive neuroscience, and cancer research, just as a few examples. What are the advantages of using a plurality of perspectives in a given scientific field and for interdisciplinary research? Can different perspectives be integrated? (...) What is the relation between perspectivism, pluralism, and pragmatism? These ten new essays by top scholars in the field offer a polyphonic journey towards understanding the view called ‘perspectivism’ and its relevance to science. (shrink)
Among philosophers of science there seems to be a general consensus that understanding represents a species of knowledge, but virtually every major epistemologist who has thought seriously about understanding has come to deny this claim. Against this prevailing tide in epistemology, I argue that understanding is, in fact, a species of knowledge: just like knowledge, for example, understanding is not transparent and can be Gettiered. I then consider how the psychological act of "grasping" that seems to (...) be characteristic of understanding differs from the sort of psychological act that often characterizes knowledge. Zagzebski's account Kvanvig's account Two problems Comanche cases Unreliable sources of information The upper-right quadrant So is understanding a species of knowledge? A false choice. (shrink)
Science is replete with falsehoods that epistemically facilitate understanding by virtue of being the very falsehoods they are. In view of this puzzling fact, some have relaxed the truth requirement on understanding. I offer a factive view of understanding that fully accommodates the puzzling fact in four steps: (i) I argue that the question how these falsehoods are related to the phenomenon to be understood and the question how they figure into the content of understanding it (...) are independent. (ii) I argue that the falsehoods do not figure into the understanding’s content by being elements of its periphery or core. (iii) Drawing lessons from case studies, I argue that the falsehoods merely enable understanding. When working with such falsehoods, only the truths we extract from them are elements of the content of our understanding. (iv) I argue that the extraction view is compatible with the thesis that falsehoods can have an epistemic value by virtue of being the very falsehoods they are. (shrink)
It seems uncontroversial that Dalton wrongly believed that atoms are indivisible. However, the correct analysis of Dalton’s belief and the way it relates to contemporary beliefs about atoms is, on closer inspection, far from straightforward. In this paper, I introduce four features that any candidate analysis is plausibly bound to respect. I argue that theories that individuate concepts at the level of understanding are doomed to fail in this endeavor. I formally sketch an alternative and suggest that cases such (...) as the one presented provide support for the claim that the genuine source for concept individuation is public sharable thought. (shrink)
Rowlands defends environmentalism, that is, the conjunction of the ontological claim that cognitive processes are not located exclusively inside the skin of cognizing organisms and the epistemological claim that it is not possible to understand the nature of cognitive processes by focusing exclusively on what is occurring inside the skin of cognizing organisms. Chapter 3 is devoted to explaining how environmentalism differs from other forms of externalism about the mental. The crucial points are that the arguments to be presented for (...) the ontological claim do not turn on considerations about the content of mental states, that environmentalism implies a strong form of externalism, and that standard arguments for externalism, based on considerations about content, do not establish the strong form. (shrink)
I explore the extent to which the epistemic state of understanding is transparent to the one who understands. Against several contemporary epistemologists, I argue that it is not transparent in the way that many have claimed, drawing on results from developmental psychology, animal cognition, and other fields.