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Explanation and Understanding

  • Kevin McCain
Chapter
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Part of the Springer Undergraduate Texts in Philosophy book series (SUTP)

Abstract

This chapter begins the transition from talking about knowledge in general to talking about scientific knowledge in particular. Although scientific knowledge is itself something that falls under the general account of knowledge, it has special features that are worth exploring. In this chapter the importance of explanation to scientific knowledge is brought to the forefront of the discussion. The nature of scientific explanation itself as well as its relation to understanding is explored in this chapter. It is made clear that good explanations are those which provide understanding of particular phenomena. In addition to examining the relationship between explanation and understanding, this chapter also examines what can make one explanation superior to another. This examination of explanatory virtues is very important because it is common in scientific practice to adopt a particular theory as a result of its being more virtuous than its competitors. Not only is such a practice common in science, it is something that we do routinely in our everyday life.

Keywords

Dependence Relation Causal Influence Cognitive Achievement Causal Account Constructive Empiricist 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin McCain
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

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