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Non-Factive Understanding: A Statement and Defense

Doyle, Yannick and Egan, Spencer and Graham, Noah and Kareem Khalifa, Kareem (2018) Non-Factive Understanding: A Statement and Defense. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In epistemology and philosophy of science, there has been substantial debate about truth’s relation to understanding. “Non-factivists” hold that radical departures from the truth are not always barriers to understanding; “quasi-factivists” demur. The most discussed example concerns scientists’ use of idealizations in certain derivations of the ideal gas law from statistical mechanics. Yet, these discussions have suffered from confusions about the relevant science, as well as conceptual confusions. To that end, we shall argue that the ideal gas law is best interpreted as favoring non-factivism about understanding, but only after delving a bit deeper into the statistical mechanics that has informed these arguments and stating more precisely what non-factivism entails. Along the way, we indicate where earlier discussions have gone astray, and highlight how a naturalistic approach furnishes more nuanced normative theses about the interaction of rationality, understanding, and epistemic value.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Doyle, Yannick
Egan, Spencer
Graham, Noah
Kareem Khalifa, Kareemkkhalifa@middlebury.edu
Additional Information: Forthcoming in the special issue of Journal for General Philosophy of Science on Normative and Naturalistic Approaches to Understanding (edited by Henk de Regt and Jan Faye).
Keywords: understanding, truth, idealization, statistical mechanics, ideal gas law
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Depositing User: Dr. Kareem Khalifa
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2018 19:38
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2018 19:38
Item ID: 14632
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
Specific Sciences > Physics > Statistical Mechanics/Thermodynamics
Date: 27 October 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14632

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