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Scientific Progress: Knowledge versus Understanding

Dellsén, Finnur (2016) Scientific Progress: Knowledge versus Understanding. [Preprint]

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Abstract

What is scientific progress? On Alexander Bird's epistemic account of scientific progress, an episode in science is progressive precisely when there is more scientific knowledge at the end of the episode than at the beginning. Using Bird's epistemic account as a foil, this paper develops an alternative understanding-based account on which an episode in science is progressive precisely when scientists grasp how to correctly explain or predict more aspects of the world at the end of the episode than at the beginning. This account is shown to be superior to the epistemic account by examining cases in which knowledge and understanding come apart. In these cases, it is argued that scientific progress matches increases in scientific understanding rather than accumulations of knowledge. In addition, considerations having to do with minimalist idealizations, pragmatic virtues, and epistemic value all favor this understanding-based account over its epistemic counterpart.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Dellsén, Finnurfinnurd@gmail.com0000-0003-4989-4204
Additional Information: Published in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.
Keywords: scientific progress; accumulated knowledge; increased understanding; scientific understanding; Alexander Bird
Subjects: General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Dr. Finnur Dellsén
Date Deposited: 02 Jan 2019 00:24
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2019 00:24
Item ID: 15540
Official URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsa.2016.01.003
Subjects: General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2016
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15540

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