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Understanding why, knowing why, and cognitive achievements

Lawler, Insa (2018) Understanding why, knowing why, and cognitive achievements. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Duncan Pritchard argues that a feature that sets understanding-why apart from knowledge-why is that whereas (I) understanding-why is a kind of cognitive achievement in a strong sense, (II) knowledge-why is not such a kind. I argue that (I) is false and that (II) is true. (I) is false because understanding-why featuring rudimentary explanations and understanding-why concerning very simple causal connections are not cognitive achievements in a strong sense. Knowledge-why is not a kind of cognitive achievement in a strong sense for the same reason knowledge-that is not. The latter thesis requires showing that having (p because q) information is not equivalent to having information about facts or principles that establish the explanatory connections between the phenomena in question. I make a positive case for this claim and defend it against objections. Based on this argument, I identify an alternative feature that sets understanding-why apart from knowledge-why: The minimal condition for understanding-why and knowledge-why with respect to their contents is not identical. Knowing why p merely requires information that some explanatorily relevant dependency obtains. Understanding why p additionally requires information about facts or principles that establish the explanatory connections between the phenomena in question.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Lawler, Insainsa.lawler@uni-due.de0000-0002-1250-6020
Additional Information: Final draft; published in Synthese
Keywords: understanding why; knowing why; cognitive achievement; reductionism about understanding why; causal explanation
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Dr. Insa Lawler
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2018 19:59
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2018 19:59
Item ID: 14309
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11229...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-017-1672-9
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Date: 18 January 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14309

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