Advancing our understanding of understanding
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In recent years, there has been a lot of interest in scientific understanding. There was already a consensus in the philosophy of science about the fact that science provides understanding of the world, but until the 70s there was not a proper and systematic investigation of the matter. This investigation has been notoriously incremental in the last two decades. Nevertheless, there is still no agreed upon way of how to understand “understanding” (Faye mentions and criticizes some of the ways: feeling of confidence, rational expectation, theoretical unification, search for underlying causal mechanisms, visualizability). Faye’s contribution to the debate proves to be a departure from the previous standard works on explanation and scientific inference. The author’s main purpose is, in his own words, describing “how our human cognitive capacities allow scientists to acquire an understanding of nature by means of representation, interpretation, and explanation” (p. vii). He starts from a...
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