Epistemic Value

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Grimm on Zagzebski and Kvanvig on Understanding and Knowledge

The September issue of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science contains the following interesting article.

"Is Understanding A Species Of Knowledge?"
Stephen R. Grimm

Among philosophers of science there seems to be a general consensus that understanding represents a species of knowledge, but virtually every major epistemologist who has thought seriously about understanding has come to deny this claim. Against this prevailing tide in epistemology, I argue that understanding is, in fact, a species of knowledge: just like knowledge, for example, understanding is not transparent and can be Gettiered. I then consider how the psychological act of ‘‘grasping’’ that seems to be characteristic of understanding differs from the sort of psychological act that often characterizes knowledge.


1 Zagzebski’s account
2 Kvanvig’s account
3 Two problems
4 Comanche cases
5 Unreliable sources of information
6 The upper-right quadrant
7 So is understanding a species of knowledge?
8 A false choice

Brit. J. Phil. Sci. 57 (2006), 515–535

There's a lot of interesting stuff on "thick" and "then" psychological states invovled in cognition--consider the "grasping" which occurs when we understand something--with some explanatory considerations pertaining to epistemic value.

"There is one further reason to think of the psychological component of understanding in terms of the richer notion of grasping, rather than the thinner notion of assent: namely, such a shift would help to shed light on why the epistemic gain we experience when we understand is so universally valued" (533).


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