1st Edition

Explaining Understanding New Perspectives from Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

    354 Pages
    by Routledge

    354 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    What does it mean to understand something? What types of understanding can be distinguished? Is understanding always provided by explanations? And how is it related to knowledge? Such questions have attracted considerable interest in epistemology recently. These discussions, however, have not yet engaged insights about explanations and theories developed in philosophy of science. Conversely, philosophers of science have debated the nature of explanations and theories, while dismissing understanding as a psychological by-product.

    In this book, epistemologists and philosophers of science together address basic questions about the nature of understanding, providing a new overview of the field.  False theories, cognitive bias, transparency, coherency, and other important issues are discussed. Its 15 original chapters are essential reading for researchers and graduate students interested in the current debates about understanding.

    List of Contributors


    Guide to the Essays




    1 What is Understanding? An Overview of Recent Debates in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

    Christoph Baumberger, Claus Beisbart and Georg Brun


    Part I

    Understanding and the Facts

    2 How Idealization Provide Understanding

    Michael Strevens

    3 How False Theories can Yield Genuine Understanding

    Henk W. de Regt and Victor Gijsbers

    4 Exemplification in Understanding

    Catherine Z. Elgin

    5 Explaining Understanding, Understanding Knowledge

    Sabine Ammon

    6 Enlightening Falsehoods: A Model View of Scientific Understanding

    Soazig Le Bihan


    Part II

    Understanding and its Norms

    7 Must Understanding be Coherent?

    Kareem Khalifa

    8 Dimensions of Objectual Understanding

    Christoph Baumberger and Georg Brun

    9 An Evidentialist Account of Explanatory Understanding

    Mark Newman

    10 Understanding and Transparency

    Stephen R. Grimm

    11 Satisfying Understanding

    John Greco


    Part III

    Understanding and the Epistemic Agent

    12 Towards a Knowledge-Based Account of Understanding

    Christoph Kelp

    13 Cognitive Bias, Scepticism and Understanding

    J. Adam Carter and Duncan Pritchard

    14 Social Epistemology and the Acquisition of Understanding

    Emma C. Gordon

    15 Understanding without Believing

    Daniel A. Wilkenfeld





    Stephen R. Grimm is Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, his B.A. from Williams College, and he works mainly in epistemology, the philosophy of science, and ethics.

    Christoph Baumberger is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Environmental Decisions at ETH Zurich. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich, and he has published in epistemology, philosophy of science, aesthetics, and philosophy of architecture. 

    Sabine Ammon works at the Berlin University of Technology as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow, funded by the European Union. She received her Ph.D. from Berlin University of Technology. She works mainly in epistemology, philosophy of engineering sciences and technology, image theory, and design ethics.

    "Recent epistemology has drawn increasing attention to the upper normative dimensions of the life of the mind. At the center of these discussions has been a concern with understanding conceived of as a state superior to true belief, justified belief, and even knowledge. The present volume advances previous discussions of understanding along several fronts. It brings together leading epistemologists and philosophers of science to address such issues as the relationship between understanding and truth, the nature and structure of the justificatory element of understanding, whether understanding requires knowledge (or even belief), and much more. The volume is very well-organized and the chapters complement and engage each other in interesting and fruitful ways. It provides anyone with an interest in philosophical issues related to understanding with a great deal to think about and learn from."

    - Jason Baehr, Loyola Marymount University, USA

    "The volume’s introductory essay by Christoph Baumberger, Claus Beisbart, and Georg Brun provides an excellent overview of recent debates about understanding. Explaining Understanding contains some excellent essays that are likely to become highly influential."

    - Finnur Dellsen, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway