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Elgin, Catherine, , . Understanding and The Facts
2007, Philosophical Studies 132: 33-42.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Abstract: 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 to 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.

Comment: This paper could be used in an undergraduate or graduate course on epistemology, philosophy of science, or any area in which the nature of understanding is at issue. The paper is quite brief and not particularly technical. It makes a good case for a claim that initially sounds very counterintuitive, so can serve as a good prompt for a discussion.

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Zagzebski, Linda Trinkaus, , . Recovering Understanding
2001, In M. Steup (ed.), Knowledge, Truth, and Duty: Essays on Epistemic Justification, Responsibility, and Virtue. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Wayne Riggs

Abstract: Proposes an analysis of the concept of understanding. Finds three important, relevant strands of thought in the works of Plato and Aristotle, among which the most important one is that understanding involves representing the world nonpropositionally, e.g. through visualization or diagrams. Taking this to be the defining characteristic, proposes that understanding is a state of comprehending nonpropositional structures of reality, such as automobiles, pieces of music or art, the character of a person, or a causal nexus. Argues that virtue epistemology is better suited than traditional epistemology to help us develop a successful analysis of understanding thus conceived. For unlike the theories from which it departs, virtue epistemology takes the objects of valuable epistemic states to consist of both propositional and nonpropositional objects.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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