, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 1-23

Explaining, understanding and scientific theories

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Abstract

One of the functions of scientific knowledge is to provide the theories and laws we need in order to understand the world. My article deals with the epistemic aspect of understanding, i.e., with understanding as unification. The aim is to explicate what we have to do in order to make our scientific knowledge contribute to an increase of the degree to which the particular events we have observed, fit into our world-picture. The analysis contains two parts. First I define the concept of scientific epistemic explanation. Explanations of these type are the appropriate instruments for increasing the degree of unification of the particular events we have observed. In the second, largest part of the article I analyze the construction process of scientific epistemic explanations, focusing on the application of scientific theories.