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Evidence: Knowledge and Understanding

English title Evidence: Knowledge and Understanding
Applicant Meylan Anne
Number 200737
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Philosophisches Seminar Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.05.2021 - 30.04.2025
Approved amount 621'808.00
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Keywords (5)

Understanding; Inquiry; Knowledge; Evidence; Epistemic Rationality

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Le projet “Evidence: Knowledge and Understanding” vise à proposer une nouvelle théorie de la relation entre la connaissance, la compréhension et les raisons épistémiques qui montrera comment la connaissance et la compréhension que l’on acquiert de la réalité contribuent à la possibilité d’une enquête objective concernant cette réalité.
Lay summary

Le project “Evidence: Knowledge and Understanding” est structuré autour de deux sous-projets. Le sous-projet A, explorera l’hypothèse que la compréhension que l’on acquiert de ce que l’on connait contribue au rôle joué par les raisons épistémiques que l’on possède. Selon une approche philosophique classique, nos raisons épistémiques nous mettent en position de connaitre et de comprendre certains faits. Il semble bien qu’acquérir et évaluer des raisons parlant pour la vérité de certaines propositions, dans le cadre d’une enquête rationnelle, est ce qui nous permet d’acquérir de nouvelles connaissances et de comprendre de nouveaux phénomènes. Dès lors, une attention considérable à été consacrée à la question de savoir comment les raisons épistémiques que l’on acquiert peuvent nous mettre en position de connaitre et de comprendre la réalité. Le sous-projet A inverse l’ordre de l’enquête philosophique dans la mesure où il examine la question de savoir comment ce que l’on en vient à connaitre et à comprendre influe sur les raisons que l’on possède et le rôle joué par ces raisons.

 

Le sous-projet B explora trois aspect du débat actuel concernant l’épistémologie de la compréhension avec pour but de défendre la thèse selon laquelle la compréhension peut être conçue comme un système à la fois complet et bien connecté de connaissances. Ce sous-projet s’intéresse ainsi aux débats concernant la factivité de la compréhension, son composant de saisie et sa compatibilité avec la chance épistémique afin d’examiner trois hypothèses qui, si elles sont correctes, établissent les bases d’une conception de la compréhension basée sur la notion de connaissance. Nous comptons monter qu’une telle conception de la connaissance est la plus apte à rendre compte de la contribution de la compréhension au rôle joué par les raisons épistémiques dont un sujet dispose. En effet, selon cette conception, cette contribution se conçoit naturellement en termes de propositions connues qui s’inscrivent dans un système de connaissances plus large à la fois complet et bien connecté. 
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.04.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
184282 Understanding What We Know 01.02.2019 Early Postdoc.Mobility

Abstract

The study of knowledge and understanding has a very rich tradition in philosophy that dates back to the works of Plato and Aristotle. The reason for this is that both these notions denote particularly valuable cognitive standings whose natures raise fundamental questions concerning the type of access to reality rational subjects such as ourselves enjoy. The goal of the project “Evidence: Knowledge and Understanding” is to explore a novel and unified account of the way knowledge, understanding and evidence relate to each other. While both knowledge and understanding appear to be of great value to us, we may indeed ask whether gaining an understanding of what we know, as opposed to what we correctly believe for instance, is of particular importance. The reason to think it is, according to one of the main hypotheses that we intend to explore, is that the understanding we gain of what we know contributes to the important role our evidence plays. Consider for instance the occurrence of a thunderclap which is evidence for the claim that lightning struck. When learning that a thunderclap has occurred, one acquires evidence for believing that lightning struck and the role this piece of evidence can play plausibly depends on the understanding one has of why a thunderclap has occurred and of the occurrence of thunderclaps in general. One’s readiness to offer it as evidence for the claim that lightning struck depends on that understanding.The project “Evidence: Knowledge and Understanding” is structured around two subprojects, each of which is itself subdivided in three distinct parts. Subproject A, entitled “Evidence and Understanding”, will investigate the hypothesis that the understanding we gain of what we know contributes to the role our evidence plays. According to the default epistemological view, the evidence we acquire is what puts us in a position to know and to understand certain things. As a matter of fact, inquiry presumably aims at reaching valuable cognitive standings such as knowledge and understanding and we achieve this aim by gathering evidence for the claims that are considered in the course of an inquiry. As a result, considerable attention has been devoted to the question as to how the evidence we acquire can put us in a position to know reality and to understand the reality we come to know. Subproject A will reverse the order of questions by investigating whether what we come to know and understand contributes to our stock of evidence and to the role it plays in the course of inquiry. Subproject B, entitled “Knowledge and Understanding” will explore three aspects of the current debate concerning the epistemology of understanding with the aim of making explicit the reasons for thinking that understanding is best conceived of as a body of comprehensive and well-connected knowledge. This subproject draws on the debates concerning the factivity of understanding, its grasping component and its compatibility with epistemic luck to examine three main hypotheses which, if correct, lay ground for a specific knowledge-based conception of understanding. We intend to show that such a knowledge-based conception is best suited to account for the particular contribution of understanding to the role played by evidence (the particular contribution of understanding to the role played by evidence is, to recall, the topic explored in subproject A). For, given such an account of understanding, this contribution is naturally conceived in terms of the way individually known propositions fit into a larger body of comprehensive and well-connected knowledge. By pursuing these two research aims simultaneously, the project “Evidence: Knowledge and Understanding” thus aims at offering a novel account of the way knowledge, understanding and evidence relate to each other. This account will clarify the important conceptual relations between these notions and show how the knowledge and the understanding we gain themselves contribute to an objective inquiry into reality.
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