Understanding, Problem-Solving, and Conscious Reflection
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According to Zagzebski (2001), understanding something is justified by the exercise of cognitive skills and intellectual virtues the knower possesses. Zagzebski develops her view by suggesting that “understanding has internalist conditions for success” (2001, p. 246). Against this view, Grimm (2017) raises an objection: what justifies understanding is the reliability of the processes by which we come to understand, and we need not be aware of the outcome of all reliable processes. Understanding is no exception, so, given that understanding something results from reliable processes, we need not always be aware of what we understand. I reply to Grimm’s objection; I argue that Zagzebski’s internalist requirement is best conceived as accessibility to conscious reflection. The accessibility condition is satisfied because understanding solves problems on the knower’s research agenda. And whenever problem-solving is non-trivial (in most real-life cognitive situations), the knower needs to reflect on what the best solving strategy is.
This work was supported by the Jefferson Scholars Foundation through a John S. Lillard fellowship.
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The corresponding (and only) author declares that there is no conflict of interest.
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