No Understanding without Explanation

Published: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 44, 510–515 (2013)

Abstract: Understanding without explanation? Impossible, or so I will argue – in the case of science, at least. More particularly, I defend in this paper a version of the following simple view concerning the connection between scientific explanation and understanding: scientific understanding is that state produced, and only produced, by grasping a correct explanation. The simple view, I will conclude, ought to be regarded as one part of a bigger picture, in which understanding why, understanding that, and understanding with are distinguished. But the central idea, that scientific understanding is a matter of having the right epistemic relation to an explanation or explanations, will remain untouched.

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