Does Scientific Progress Consist in Increasing Knowledge or Understanding?



Bird (2007) argues that scientific progress consists in increasing knowledge. Dellsén (2016a) objects that increasing knowledge is neither necessary nor sufficient for scientific progress, and argues that scientific progress rather consists in increasing understanding. Dellsén also contends that unlike Bird’s view, his view can account for the scientific practices of using idealizations and of choosing simple theories over complex ones. I argue that Dellsén’s criticisms against Bird’s view fail, and that increasing understanding cannot account for scientific progress, if acceptance, as opposed to belief, is required for scientific understanding.


Epistemic approach Knowledge Noetic approach Scientific progress Understanding 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General StudiesUlsan National Institute of Science and TechnologyUlju-gun, UlsanRepublic of Korea

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