understanding; evidence; knowledge; cognitive achievements; knowledge-first epistemology; explanationism; justification
BelkonieneMiloud, Dziurosz-SerafinowicPatryk (2020), Acting Upon Uncertain Beliefs, in Acta Analytica
, (35), 253-271.
BelkonieneMiloud (2019), Normalcy, Understanding and the Problem of Statistical Evidence, in Theoria
, 85, 202-218.
BelkonieneMiloud (2019), Why Explanatory Considerations Matter, in Erkenntnis
BelkonieneMiloud, Grasping in Understanding, in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
Knowledge is undeniably something we value and that we aim at acquiring. Our scientific practices are a very good example of the resources we are prepared to invest in our quest for knowledge. But knowledge is not the only thing we aim at when engaging in such practices. We also aim at improving our understanding of the reality we have access to. For instance, when a scientist tries to answer specific questions about our biology, her aim is not simply to increase her stock of factual knowledge about living organisms. She aims at reaching some understanding of living organisms by providing correct answers to the questions she asks in the course of her inquiry. In addition, when engaging in practices of inquiry such as scientific practices, we do not merely try to guess the answers to the questions we ask in the course of our inquiry. We, instead, collect evidence and base our beliefs on the evidence we acquire. In other words, we form beliefs concerning a given domain of inquiry that we are justified in having in light of the evidence we acquire. But how exactly does the justification we have for holding some beliefs about a given domain of inquiry relate to the factual knowledge we acquire and to the understanding we gain? And how do these two aims - knowledge and understanding - relate to each other? The project “Understanding What We Know” aims at providing an answer to these questions by offering a philosophical account of the relation between the justification someone has for holding some beliefs, what one knows to be the case and what one understands. At first sight, the relation between the notions of justification, knowledge and understanding may not appear to be particularly problematic. One might think that to understand why something is the case is just to know why it is the case - that is, to know what explains it - and that in order to know the explanation of a particular phenomenon, one has to believe that explanation on the basis of good evidence. However, this view has been challenged on various grounds in the context of an ongoing debate concerning the nature of understanding. In light of this debate, it is necessary to rethink the way these notions relate to each other. This project will be supervised by Prof. José Zalabardo at University College London and by Dr. Christoph Kelp at the University of Glasgow. It will rely on the argumentative methodology used in traditional epistemology which sets clarity, coherence and logical consistency as standards of evaluation, in order to defend two central hypotheses concerning the nature of understanding, which can shed new and interesting light on the relation between justification, knowledge and understanding. The resulting account of the relation between these notions will provide a framework for the adoption of a reflective perspective on our scientific practices and on the contribution made by the evidence-based methodology we employ to the knowledge we acquire and to the understanding we aim at gaining when engaging in these practices.