At 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. I argue that the received view should be revised but not abandoned. In doing so, I clarify and answer 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?
2017. Understanding, Explanation, and Scientific Knowledge. breezy overview of the book's main aims on the Cambridge Blog.
Table of Contents:
With Daniel Kostic, I am co-organizing the inaugural Scientific Understanding and Representation (SURe) workshop in February 2019 in Bourdeaux, France. We hope to have more of these workshops in the future.
Articles and Book Chapters
- In progress. Paper on understanding as an aim of science.
- in progress. Paper on understanding in the natural and social sciences.
- (with Emily Sullivan) 2019. idealizations and understanding: much ado about nothing? Australasian Journal of Philosophy. doi:10.1080/00048402.2018.1564337.
- (with Yannick Doyle, Spencer Egan, and Noah Graham) forthcoming. Non-factive understanding: a statement and defense. Journal for General Philosophy of Science.
- 2016. Must understanding be coherent? in Explaining understanding: new perspectives from epistemology and philosophy of science, edited by S. Grimm, C. Baumberger, and S. Ammon (London: Routledge).
- 2015. EMU defended: reply to Newman (2013). European Journal for Philosophy of Science. 5 (3): 377-385.
- (with Michael Gadomski) 2013. Understanding as explanatory knowledge: the case of Bjorken scaling. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (3): 384-392.
- 2013c. Understanding, grasping, and luck. Episteme 10(1): 1-17.
- 2013b. Is understanding explanatory or objectual? Synthese 190(6): 1153-1171.
- 2013a. The role of explanation in understanding. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64(1): 161-187.
- 2012. Inaugurating understanding or repackaging explanation? Philosophy of Science 79(1): 15-37.
- 2011. Understanding, knowledge, and scientific antirealism. Grazer Philosophische Studien 83 (1): 93-112.