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Beyond Explanation: Understanding as Dependency Modeling

Dellsén, Finnur (2018) Beyond Explanation: Understanding as Dependency Modeling. [Preprint]

Understanding as Dependency Modeling BJPS Accepted.pdf

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This paper presents and argues for an account of objectual understanding that aims to do justice to the full range of cases of scientific understanding, including cases in which one does not have an explanation of the understood phenomenon. According to the proposed account, one understands a phenomenon just in case one grasps a sufficiently accurate and comprehensive model of the ways in which it or its features are situated within a network of dependence relations; one’s degree of understanding is proportional to the comprehensiveness and accuracy of such a model. I compare this account with accounts of scientific understanding that explicate understanding in terms of having an explanation of the understood phenomenon. I discuss three distinct types of cases in which scientific understanding does not amount to possessing an explanation of any kind, and argue that the proposed model-based account can accommodate these cases while still retaining a strong link between understanding and explanation.

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Item Type: Preprint
Dellsén, Finnurfinnurd@gmail.com0000-0003-4989-4204
Additional Information: Forthcoming in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Depositing User: Dr. Finnur Dellsén
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2019 00:13
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2019 00:13
Item ID: 15528
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
Date: 2018

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