Philosophical Studies

, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 33–42

Understanding and the facts

Goering Special Issue

DOI: 10.1007/s11098-006-9054-z

Cite this article as:
Elgin, C. Philos Stud (2007) 132: 33. doi:10.1007/s11098-006-9054-z

Abstract

If understanding is factive, the propositions that express an understanding are true. I argue that a factive conception of understanding is unduly restrictive. It neither reflects our practices in ascribing understanding nor does justice to contemporary science. For science uses idealizations and models that do not mirror the facts. Strictly speaking, they are false. By appeal to exemplification, I devise a more generous, flexible conception of understanding that accommodates science, reflects our practices, and shows a sufficient but not slavish sensitivity to the facts.

Keywords

UnderstandingExemplificationFactiveModelIdealizationFiction

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EducationHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA